Unusual Healings: The Longest 12 Years She Ever Endured
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
Text: Mark 5:21-34 KJV
21 And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea. 22 And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, 23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: (I pray thee), come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. 24 And (Jesus) went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.
25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, 26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, 27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. 28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. 29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in (her) body that she was healed of that plague.
30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? 31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. 34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
Introduction: This healing is unusual in a number of ways. First, it happened while Jesus was on the way to heal or save a man’s daughter from impending death. Second, it happened in the presence of a crowd. Several of our Lord’s miracles took place where only the people involved or a small group of people could observe it. Third, Jesus didn’t touch the woman involved, nor did He heal her with a spoken word (compare this with the man at Bethesda, John 5). Finally, this is the only time recorded in Scripture when someone received healing without directly asking for it from Jesus.
I The woman’s disease
None of the Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, nor Luke) tell us exactly what this was suffering from. Luke says she had “an issue of blood” but it is not specified what this “issue of blood” really was, except to mention a “fountain of blood” in verse 29. No matter what, she had been dealing with this illness for 12 years.
Even worse, Luke states she had spent all her money on doctor bills (verse 26, paraphrased) and never got better! Some of this was not the fault of the doctors of those days: research and practical experience have led to a very advanced level of care that Luke may have only been able to dream of! The woman may have dreaded every doctor’s visit she ever endured. Who knows what she might have been told: ”I’m sorry, ma’am, we don’t know what your problem is”, or, “you definitely have a problem and we need to run some more tests (hey, it could have happened, even then!)”. or, “may I refer you to another doctor or specialist?”
Please don’t misunderstand: doctors generally do all they can for their patients but there are times even doctors don’t know what to do. For this woman, she had spent all she had in terms of money and time, hoping, perhaps, she wouldn’t bleed to death before she found healing. We are not told just who informed her about Jesus, if anyone, but now here was her chance to at least request to be healed. Would she make it in time?
II The woman’s determination
Verse 27 says that the woman “heard of Jesus”. Who did this? If someone, whether a doctor or a friend or a family member, told her about Jesus, that person will no doubt receive a reward for giving the woman some life-changing and perhaps life-saving advice. The human body only holds a limited amount of blood and no person can afford to lose too much blood either too fast or too often. Death could be the result.
But this woman didn’t want to die. After all, she had spent a lot of time and all of her money (where and how did she get it?) on doctors and had never been healed. Now she hears about Jesus and now she is on her way to find Him.
It’s interesting that she says, “If I can only touch His clothes, I’ll get well (verse 28, paraphrased)”. How did she learn about this? Had a friend already experienced a similar healing? No matter what or how, she knew Jesus could heal. And she’s on her way to experience healing for herself.
Notice her modesty in this determination. In the custom of the day, seldom would a woman approach a man face to face (exception: Martha, when she came to speak to Jesus in John 11). So this woman is following Jesus, and the crowd (“press”, verse 27) as Jesus is going on His way to Jairus’ house. She is following Him and somehow gets close enough to touch His clothes.
And she was healed! Luke says the “fountain of blood”, whatever it was, was “straightway” or immediately (!) she knew she had been healed! This had to be wonderful news: for 12 years, she had had a problem with, apparently, losing blood and probably losing hope, thinking she would never be healed of this problem. Now she found Jesus, she touched His clothes, and she received an immediate healing!
But that wasn’t all that happened.III The woman’s declaration
Probably just as soon as the woman touched Jesus’ clothes, and received healing, Jesus knew that “virtue had gone out of Him (verse 30)”. Notice how He dealt with this issue. As God in flesh, He knew who had done this. For example, He could have called the woman by name and asked her to defend why she had the audacity to touch His clothes. Instead, He asked an open-ended question: “Who touched My clothes?”
The disciples were perhaps dismayed. They knew there was a crowd—a multitude, Luke says—and the disciples asked Him (rhetorically?), “You see the crowd all around You, but You’re asking ‘who touched Me?’” One wonders what they were thinking!
But Jesus does not answer them. Instead, He stops, and then looks around the crowd to see who had touched His clothes. We would do well to remember, one day EVERY person will see Him face to face, whether it’s when a believer goes to be with Him when this life is over or if it is at the Great White Throne judgment (see Revelation 20) when a sinner will receive judgment for the deeds done is his or her body before being cast into the Lake of Fire. No need for any person to experience everlasting punishment or torment: just repent of your sins and accept God’s gift of salvation today!
Returning to the line of thought, Jesus had stopped on His journey, and is now looking around, wondering (though He knew) who had touched His clothes. We are not told how long it took, nor how much time had elapsed, but the woman made her way forward. She knew it was Jesus and this time, instead of following behind Him, fell down before Him.
And that wasn’t all. She was afraid! She was “fearing and trembling (verse 33)”, even though we aren’t told why. The woman was clearly not sure what was going to happen next when she was kneeling before Jesus, but she knew what she had to do.
She explained what she did! Luke says she “told (Jesus) all the truth” of the matter. She probably explained the whole 12 years of the issue or fountain of blood, the misery of going to doctors and receiving nothing in terms of healing, the financial strain of spending all her money on doctors and never being healed—her heart and voice were probably breaking while she explained the whole truth of the matter to the Lord.
When she had finished, she may not have known what to expect or what might happen. After all, she didn’t know much about Jesus except that He had the power to heal. And she had received healing, even though she literally touched His clothes and never asked Him directly to be healed. We now know she had nothing to worry about, because Jesus—and I believe He said this tenderly—said to her, “Daughter (what a comforting word!). your faith made you well, go in peace, and you are healed of the plague you used to have (verse 34, paraphrased)”.
Conclusion: While Jesus was on His way to Jairus’ house, He felt virtue leave His body. He asked who did it, and the woman who had suffered from a “fountain of blood” for 12 years came to Him, knelt before Him, and explained the whole matter. Jesus listened to her and gave her a promise that she had been healed. Completely. She had suffered for 12 years—but she wouldn’t be suffering from that issue or that problem anymore!
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV)