And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Mark 5:24-34
I spent the past few days visiting my son in New York City. Having gone to law school and worked in the city for years, it often feels like home. Yet sometimes, the crowds on the streets overwhelm me. Pushed and jostled, I feel claustrophobic, and I want to escape the crowd immediately. I do not want to stop, but want to press on to find a calmer place. But, with a swarm of people surrounding Him, Jesus was willing to stop. I am hard-pressed to think of a sufficiently compelling reason that would thwart me from finding a calmer place. But, with a swarm of people surrounding Him, Jesus had a reason.
We know this story. For some of us, Jesus’ interaction with the suffering woman stirs our hearts in a particularly moving way. Why is this? The woman was healed the moment she touched His garment. She was healed. So why did Jesus have to find her in the crowd? First of all, didn’t He (fully God) know who touched Him? I believe He did, but He had more than physical healing to offer her and the crowd. By asking the question, “Who touched Me,” He was giving her the opportunity to confess what she had done — she had violated the Levitical law by touching a man. Having bled for twelve years, she was considered unclean. But Jesus wasn’t asking with the intent of reprimanding her, nor humiliating her. Why then?
Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus did not hold against the woman that she broke the Law by touching Him, reminiscent of the time He “broke the Law,” healing a blind man on the Sabbath. He came to fulfill the Law. What mattered was that she acted in faith by touching Him. What mattered to Him was that she was willing to make a confession in public. What mattered to Him was that she would fall down at his feet. What mattered to Him was that she told Him the “whole truth.”
Who touched Me?
Have I touched Jesus? Have I acted in faith by going to Him with my needs? Then I have touched Him. Have I fallen at His feet? Then I have touched Him. Have I told Him the whole truth of what I have done? Then I have touched Him. But of course, the best part of the story is what He said in response: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:34)