As we continue exploring Jesus’ questions, we come today to one of my favourite stories in the Bible and to the question: “Who touched my robe?”
As with the other questions we’ve covered, it seems a strange question at first glance, but there is a wealth of truth to be discovered as we look deeper.
We find this story in Mark 5. As usual, a crowd surrounds Jesus. He has been approached by Jairus, a leader in the local synagogue, who asks Jesus to come and help his twelve year old daughter who is dying, and Jesus has agreed to go to the house.
Among the crowd is a lady who has suffered from bleeding for twelve years. She has tried everything: spent all her money on doctors and medicines, tried every possible solution, and nothing has worked, but now she has heard about Jesus and his healing power. She is convinced that Jesus can heal her. The problem is that her status as an outcast because of her illness prevents her from approaching him.
She has amazing faith in his power though and thinks to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” (Mark 5:28 NLT) She reaches out and does so, and instantly the bleeding stops!
Just as she is about to head off to enjoy her newfound health, Jesus stops walking, turns around and asks the question: “Who touched my robe?” (Mark 5:30 NLT)
It’s a strange question. The disciples point out that someone in the crowd must have bumped against Jesus accidentally, which makes a lot of sense. Jesus knows it was deliberate though as he has felt healing power go out from him, but even then it’s a strange thing to ask. After all he is on the way to heal a dying girl: what does it matter who touched him?
He waits and eventually the woman comes forward, trembling, and confesses that she touched Jesus as she wanted to be healed. His response is kind: “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” (Mark 5:34 NLT)
It’s an amazing story, but what can we learn from the question Jesus asked?
Firstly, Jesus was not just concerned with the woman’s physical healing. He wanted her not only to be healed of her illness, but also to be made whole- to be healed emotionally from the shame she was carrying, the stigma of her illness and her status as “unclean.” He could have let her go with just the physical healing and she would have been grateful, but by asking this question and drawing her out of the crowd, he gave her something even greater, as he affirmed her faith and her identity in him.
We see a similar feature in the story of the paralysed man who is lowered through the roof to Jesus. He has obviously come seeking physical healing, and Jesus grants him that, but only after first forgiving his sins.
It’s the same for us: our need for healing drives us to Jesus, but often the healing he offers goes deeper than we would ever have expected.
Our need for healing drives us to Jesus, but the healing he offers goes even deeper than we expect. (Click to tweet.)
Secondly, it shows that God cares for those who are overlooked or disregarded by others. Jesus took time to heal this woman, even when he was on the way to help a dying girl. He showed her that she was valuable and precious to him, whatever others may have thought of her. That encourages me that, even when I feel invisible to others, God sees and God cares.
Finally it shows me that sometimes God calls us to testify more publicly than we would have chosen ourselves. I relate to the woman’s desire to hide, even after receiving healing from Jesus. It is scary to stand before a crowd and tell your story. It is often scary even to tell one person your story.
Worries about what people will think or how they will react can tempt us to stay silent. But that was not an option for this woman, and it is not an option for us either. God calls us out of hiding to testify to his grace, love and power, and in doing so the impact is two-fold: our own healing goes deeper, and he allows us and our story to have an impact for him, to show others who he is and to draw them to him.
“Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.” (Psalm 107:2 NLT)
If God has worked in our lives we have a story to tell, and every story matters.