And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, had begged Jesus to come to his house to heal his only daughter, who was dying. Jesus agreed and they began to make their way through the crowd. The crowd pressed him from all sides. It was slow going. A jostle here, an elbow there. Besides the regular crowd hassle, Jesus was also quite famous at the time. Everyone wanted to touch him, to be near, to see him.
He makes his way. Suddenly, he stops. Everyone else stops. Jesus is looking around at the crowd.
“Who touched me?”
A silence descends. Maybe they didn’t hear the question right. It was a strange question. They were in the middle of the crowd, shoved and jostled from every side, and Jesus says, “Who touched me?”
When Jesus persists in looking around and asking, Peter finally wonders. “Jesus, we’re in the middle of a crowd. Everyone has touched you.”
Jesus continues. “No. You don’t understand. Someone touched me. I felt power go out from me. Who touched me?”
We know that Jesus is true God and knows all things. We know that the grace to heal is not accidental. Jesus healed this woman and did it on purpose, knowing what He did. So why did he say, “Who touched me?”
Jesus also told us to pray, and said “You Father knows what you need before you ask.”
So why pray? Hold that question a moment. Let’s go back to the crowd.
We have the advantage of the readers. We know who touched him.
A woman with an issue of blood for 12 years touched him. Under Moses’ law, a woman in the time of her cycle was ceremonially unclean. She could not enter into the congregation of the Lord until her time was over and she was cleansed. Further, anyone who touched a woman in the time of her cycle was also ceremonially unclean and could not enter into the congregation of the Lord. She had been ceremonially unclean for 12 years.
12 years of being able to touch no one. 12 years of spending every penny she had on doctors and being told that there was nothing to be done. 12 years of being excluded from her family, her friends, the worship of the Lord.
12 years of loneliness, isolation. She was an outcast, unclean. She was used to the look. You know the one. “Stay away from me. You’re unclean. You’re not worth my time. You’re not even worth God’s time.”
The rabbis had a prayer. “I thank God that I am male, Jewish and free.” No one else was worth the time.
Especially not this woman – an endless flow of blood. Outcast. Unclean. Stay away.
If you have ever experienced being an outsider, you know how this woman felt. She was excluded from every circle, every gathering, every fellowship. If you have always been in the circle, you have no idea.
You don’t know what it is like to never be welcomed, never be accepted. To always be the odd one out, the “outsider”. It’s our worst fear come true. That we are no good. Not fit for company, either with God or man. Weird. An outsider. “She’s just not ‘our kind of people’”
She had had this for 12 years. Not our kind of people. An outsider. Unclean. Outcast.
By now she had given up. She was now used to being alone and outcast – at least, used to pretending and surviving. But she hears about Jesus. She truly believes that he has the power to heal her.
But she has been an outcast for 12 years, and those habits do not easily turn themselves off. She would not again risk the contempt and scorn of the included, the clean. She would not speak. She would not draw any attention to herself. She would just sneak through the crowd and touch his garment.
And she reaches out, touches his garment and the whole world stops.
The first thing that she notices is that she is completely cleansed. She feels the power. She feels the healing. Everything has changed. She is like a schoolgirl again!
The next thing that she notices almost immediately is that everything is silent. Everyone is looking around. And Jesus is asking, “Who touched me?”
It like the worst nightmare for one who has been a pariah for 12 years. She is used to the shadows and now the spotlight is on and pointing right at her.
She shakes her head and tries to slink away. But the Master persists.
Now he is looking right at her (see Matthew 9:22). Who touched me?
Why? Why didn’t He just let it go? He had already healed her and given her life back! Why is he persisting on saying “Who touched me?”
The answer is here: this woman had been an outcast – filthy and unclean for 12 years. Nothing will make you feel more filthy than actually being filthy. There wasn’t anything that she could do about it. But Jesus came to collect his sheep. He came to call out a people for his name. He came to deliver His people from their sins – so that they might KNOW the Lord.
Think of this: God doesn’t just save us from our sins. He doesn’t just heal our iniquities. He actually delights to call us his bride, his people, his children, his sons and daughters!
But this woman has been unclean for 12 years. What she has to say isn’t wanted. Isn’t needed. She isn’t’ worth the bother. People quit listening to her years ago. People quit caring years ago. All she had left was sneaking through the crowd and touching the hem of the garment. If she could just be healed, she would go away, no one would be bothered, and everyone could go about their lives.
But Jesus came to call His people home. He wouldn’t let this one get away. She needed to know that HE had the time to listen. That he cared, that he would stop just for her. That she mattered to HIM. That her life was redeemed from the grave and it was important to him.
To Jesus, she wasn’t a nobody, she wasn’t an outcast – for He had taken that away.
This is the beauty of the doctrine of election. God chose ME. He doesn’t love everyone in general, for that would mean that He loves no one. He loves ME. He chose ME to be His bride.
This is what the woman needed to know. Not only did Jesus heal her, but Jesus loves her, hears her – has betrothed Himself to her forever.
She needed to know that His blood would take ALL of her sickness and weakness and uncleanness and nail it to the cross forever so that she could live, so that she could know the Lord.
And how can you KNOW the Lord if you don’t talk to him?
So He looks this unclean, outcast woman in the eye and says “Who touched me?” And she falls on her knees and tells him everything.
That she has had this horrible uncleanness for 12 years.
That it hurts; that she is weary and desperate and helpless.
She tells him her pain and her hurt and her losses.
She tells him what it is like to be outcast and alone.
How it feels to spend every penny on doctors and they can’t help.
We were created to be in fellowship with God. We were created with ears because God hears. We were created with tongues and breath and mouths because God speaks. And we were created with the gift of speech so that we could talk with God Himself – a God who speaks. And a God who loves to listen! He delights to hear our prayers!
Jesus didn’t suffer the pains and torments of hell so that we could just touch his robe and slink away. He won’t let it happen. He will say, “Who touched me” until he is looking right at us. He redeemed us from our sin and misery; He calls us His own; He has betrothed us to Himself forever – and He desires that we talk to Him.
Think of it! The Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe offered Himself for ME because He loved me and wants me back in fellowship! He wants me to talk to Him. He wants us to always and forever acknowledge that we have absolutely nothing apart from Him; every good thing comes from His hand alone.
And further, He desires that we know that He is willing to save, being our heavenly Father, and able to save, being almighty God.
And He keeps saying, “Who touched me…” looking right at us until with fear and trembling we fall down on our knees before Him and finally tell Him everything.
Everything. Our pain, our longings, our frustration, how many years it has been, what it is like to be despised, outcast, unclean…
What it feels like to spend our last penny on doctors who can’t help. What it is like to struggle against sin and misery and how we long to overcome it. How much we long to be in His presence, clean and whole and healed. We tell him of those who persecute, of those we long to be reconciled to. We tell Him of our hurts and the hurts that we have caused others. And as we are telling Him we learn a little more about what it means to KNOW the Lord
Notice also she tells him how she was healed immediately. We pray because it is the chief part of thankfulness. Jesus did it. Not her. There wasn’t anything she could do. She didn’t deserve His kindness and mercy, but He was able and willing and actually healed her.
He redeems our life from destruction and crowns us with lovingkindness and tender mercies, so that we might know Him. So that we might talk to him.
As Calvin says, we enter into holy conversation with God Himself. And in this conversation we also hear the voice of God in the holy Scriptures: “Go in peace; your faith has made you whole.”