We’ve learned a lot about touch and isolation in the last two years, haven’t we? We started off being told not to touch our eyes, nose, or mouth (remember that?). Then we graduated to not touching things, people, and carrying around sanitizer. There was also social distancing, masks, and isolation (a.k.a., “staying in”). We did all of this because we concerned about uncleanness in a hygienic, virus-related sense but it has taken its toll.
God created us for touch—hugs, handshakes, and pats on the back. To not touch is not good. And isolating—well, we all remember that, and no one wants to go there again. Still, we’ve learned some important things from the last couple of years—things that helped us to understand the woman talked about in Mark 5:25-34.
She had “been subject to bleeding for twelve years” (v. 25). Under old covenant law (Leviticus 15:25ff), she was considered ceremonially unclean. Anyone touching her would become unclean, so she was untouchable! Think of how isolating that would be. And this wasn’t for a few months or off and on over two years—it was for twelve years!
Because of all of this, it seems right that touch played a prominent part in her healing. She touched Jesus’ cloak and “Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering” (v. 29).
But the story doesn’t stop here—there’s more touch involved.
Specifically, Jesus “turned around” and wanted to know who touched His cloak. His disciples pointed out that they were in the middle of a crowd “but Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it” (v. 32). The woman fell at His feet and told her story. Then Jesus said to her (and everyone else there) something very important. He said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (v. 34).
Why is this so important?
It was obviously meaningful to the woman. In addition to her physical healing (a big deal), she received recognition and acknowledgement from Jesus. “Daughter” is a family word, a term of endearment. He goes on to praise her for her faith (“your faith has healed you”). These words must have washed over her and brought healing of another kind (see Proverbs 12:18, 16:24).
But they did something more.
Jesus made a public declaration about the woman’s status. The one who had been unclean for twelve years was pronounced “healed” by Him. If He had allowed her to leave as she had planned, no one would have known of her healing, and it would have been difficult on her own to convince them. But she wouldn’t have to worry about that because she was now recognized as a fully functioning part of the community.
She was touchable!