She’s been in this condition for 12 long miserable years. The bleeding never stops.
Every single day, blood!
She’s the woman in the Mark 5:24-28 and she has a severe case of internal hemorrhage that results in a constant chronic discharge of blood (a female issue). So, not only is she in constant discomfort and pain (perpetually feeling “yucky”), not only does she experience constant fatigue from all the blood loss, but there’s the daily weight of fear that any day could be her last because she could literally bleed to death. To make matters worse, the doctors in her HMO are horrible! Not only have they wrongly diagnosed her medical condition, not only has she suffered a great deal at their hands, but all her medical expenses (over the last 12 years) have left her bankrupt.
You know what’s even more unbearable about her situation? ThE fact that in that super-religious culture she lived in, her medical condition made her ceremonially unclean; which means she’s a religious and social outcast. According to Leviticus 15:19-28, she (in her condition) was not permitted to enter the temple to worship, lest she defile a holy place. She couldn’t even be out in public without first making people aware she was unclean.
Incase you haven’t caught on, this means that according to the religious laws in her day, she was not allowed to touch anybody! Think about that for a moment. It means NO ONE HAS GIVEN HER A HUG in 12 years for fear that they too would be rendered unclean. For all we know, she probably lived by herself, ate all by herself, worshipped God by herself in her little apartment, had no friends, no Church family, and certainly no money!
One might be inclined to shed sympathetic tears for her were it not for the fact that out of her quagmire of pain and disappointment would be born great faith, a “GO BIG” kind of faith. We don't know where she was when word reached her that Jesus was in town, but we can surmise that in the moment the news hit her ears, something began to stir deeply in her. She had almost certainly heard the news about this new teacher who spoke with great authority and healed the sick simply by telling them to stand up. She’d also likely heard the news that He could drive out demons simply by telling them to “Leave!”, and she would have heard the rumors about this Messiah who could make thousand of tuna fish sandwiches simply by thanking God for it!
Now he was in her neighborhood!
But there’s a problem. Jesus rarely travels alone. At a minimum, he would have around Him His core disciple group of 12 men and perhaps a few dozen others, including the women who supported His ministry. Unfortunately, when Jesus hits her area of town, that number is significantly more. Verse 24 tells us that, “A large crowd followed and pressed around him…” If you’ve been tracking with me, you immediately understand why these crowds are a problem. In order for this woman to physically get to Jesus to receive her healing, she needs to make her way through a crowd that could have numbered in the hundreds. In other words, she would need to break the law several hundred times by touching people and making them ceremonially unclean, just to get an audience with Jesus.
You know what this problem is called? It is what is known as a FAITH KILLER! This is the “GO HOME” part of “go big or go home.” She could very well have reasoned that “it was pointless” to attempt meeting with Jesus because of what “everyone would say and do” if she even ventured near them in public.
Thankfully, she’s not in a “GO HOME” frame of mind, but in a “GO BIG” mindset. She’s concluded that flowing in Jesus’ body is the same mighty power that spoke creation into existence in Genesis, hence she formulates a plan. Her plan entails sneaking up behind Jesus, tapping into His inexhaustible power source, receiving her healing, then slipping out before anyone notices!
So, with confidence, certainty, and an assurance that Christ has what she most desperately needs, she steps out of her front door to track Him down. So we see here that great faith isn’t simply believing God, but it is following up that belief with bold, even risky action! And that’s exactly what she does. She presses through all the “faith-killers” and gets close enough so that she comes up right behind Him where she knows He won’t see her. Then she reaches out and clutches the tail end of His garment, and in that moment, she encounters glory in the form of divine healing. Verse 29 tells us that as she held on to His garment, “Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” When it says her “bleeding stopped”, the word used there literally translates as “to dry up”, which is exactly why the author takes the time to point out that, “immediately", she “felt in her body” that she was healed. After 12 long torturous years of constantly feeling “yucky”, she immediately knew that something was different.
At this point, there’s only one thing left on her "THINGS-TO-DO-TODAY" list, Run away! But Jesus halts her escape plan. Though hundreds are pressing in around Him, Jesus wants to know who touched Him because someone’s faith just activated power to flow out of Him. After she identifies herself, Jesus not only affirms her healing, but He calls her “daughter”, (not simply "woman"). In other words, because of her faith in Him, Jesus just welcomed her into His kingdom as one of His own, a daughter, a child, a co-heir.
Think about all that this woman just received because of her bold faith. One: She received the physical healing she most desperately sought after. Two: As a result of her healing, she is now restored socially into the community (she can get hugs now). Three: Religiously, she can now go to the temple to worship with friends and family. Four: she was adopted into God’s family as a daughter and now has the assurance and hope of spending eternity with Jesus Christ. I’d say that’s a pretty good day!
So how does her story translate into a “GO BIG” kind of faith in your life? Well, first off, let’s look at what faith is. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Two keys words to understanding faith, “Confidence” and “Assurance.” Another word for those two words is the word, “CERTAINTY.”
Before we delve into certainty, here is what faith is NOT. Faith isn’t optimism or positive wishful thinking (which I think is what most of us have. In fact, up until this study, I was convinced one of my spiritual gifts was faith. But as I explored the role of certainty in faith and the resulting bold action, it occurred to me that what I have is actually the gift of optimism!)
True faith then, the “GO BIG” kind of faith we see in this story (and in Hebrews 11:1) is a certainty that what we hope for and believe God for in prayer, will without a doubt be waiting for us on the other end. It is FULL confidence and certainty that God will do what you have petitioned Him for, so much so that it results in bold actions steps. It is getting up, leaving your house, pressing past all the faith-killers, and reaching out and grabbing the opportunities God places in front of you! Like the woman in this story, you might find that even the smallest measure of faith in your life might result in God doing immeasurably and exceedingly more than you could have dreamed or imagined.
There’s some indication in the gospel of Mark that this woman’s great act of faith had a residual positive impact. According to Mark 6:53-56, there’s reason to believe that news about her healing, her great faith, and the manner she was healed in had begun to spread countrywide. So much so that people across town began to think to themselves, “Hey, maybe if I had faith like that woman, I could experience the same healing she did when she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment.” I believe this is why Mark 6:56 says, “…And wherever he [Jesus] went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.” Is it possible that the massive crowds of the sick who came from distant villages, towns, and the countryside to see Jesus, did so because their faith was stirred up by news of the bold actions of this one woman? Might some ailing guy have heard her story and said to himself, “...She got what? ...By doing what? ...Somebody hold my wheelchair…I’m gon’ find Jesus and get my healing TODAY!”
So what is God calling you to boldly step into? What is it that you’ve long been praying for and believing God is calling you into, of which God would probably say, “Okay, I HEARD YOU ALREADY! Now it’s time for you to step out boldly in faith and act with CERTAINTY AND ASSURANCE that I will be waiting for you on the other end.”?
O, how I pray that God would grant you an audacious GO-BIG kind of faith….cos I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to “go home.”