Jesus Wants to Heal You… Sort Of

I’ve been immersed in the gospel of Mark for months now. Recently, something from chapter five struck me with unusual weight.

Here’s the story from Mark 5:21-34:

21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And he went with him.

And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

One sharp thrust here:

There is something we want, and there is something Jesus wants. And they are not typically the same.

Allow me to decode.

Desperate father, Jairus, approached Jesus for help. Significant citizen and synagogue ruler, he was quick to humble himself for Jesus’ aid. His community would almost certainly have supported his request: “If anyone deserves help, Jairus certainly does.” Jesus expressed his willingness, and off they went.

Along the way, another request was made for Jesus’ healing–silently and secretly. A woman whose typical feminine bleeding had extended into a dozen years of suffering and stigma (imagine a decade-plus of ceremonial uncleanliness in a strictly religious community). She may not have known much about Jesus, but she’d heard rumblings, stories so shocking that she assumed a simple swipe of his hem would be sufficient. Impure as she was, she really shouldn’t have been in a crowd. She certainly shouldn’t have been touching rabbis.

But she did.

The untrained eye would have only perceived a crowd pressing around the journeying Jesus and Jairus. But the untrained eye would have missed a profound reality unfolding beneath the visible layers. Could the commotion have been peeled back, two sparks would have been observable, flecks of recognition on a spiritual plane beyond others’ perception.

The woman KNEW she had received healing. She could feel it, in her depths.

Jesus KNEW that power had transferred. Whatever sensation he normally felt of “power within himself”, it had been noticeably altered.

And it drove Jesus to plant his feet.

Nervous Jairus with dying daughter awaiting surely grimaced. Disciples blind to the spiritual dimension scoffed at the search. Yet Jesus wanted to find the one who touched him. In fact, he insisted upon it, unwilling to “just leave it be”.

Beneath the crowd cover, the recently-contaminated-but-now-healed woman crouched, hoping the searching eye would close.

But Jesus’ gaze cannot be broken, and the woman crumbles before him. Precious moments ticked by for Jairus; still Jesus listened to her story. Some have said that human physicians would face malpractice suits for the decisions that Jesus made here: A child was dying, while he conversed with a woman that he had just healed (albeit unknowingly) from a chronic, but hardly deadly, condition.

This suggestion raises a question: Why did Jesus think it was so important to identify this woman–to look her in the eye and interact with her?

In our asking, we return to where we started…

There is something we want, and there is something Jesus wants. And they are not typically the same.

It appears that the woman would have happily, even eagerly, taken her serving of “miracle power” home–healed and anonymous–and quietly moved on with her new and improved life.

It appears that Jesus made no such consideration.

Jesus is not satisfied to catapult a miracle into our lives from long distance. He does not set out to remedy our disappointments from arm’s length. Inability has nothing to do with it; he is the provider of peace and the bringer of salvation in all its forms. But if we are looking to be recipients in a detached fashion, with less connection to him then the pill that we swallow for relief from a headache, then we will be long looking for a favour that he has never offered to perform.

Jesus will aid us in missing out on all sorts of things, in an effort to help us avoid missing this:

Jesus is serious about connection.

He is intrigued by interaction.

He is enthralled with encounter.

And he deeply desires this with YOU.

5 thoughts on “Jesus Wants to Heal You… Sort Of

  1. I read your old post about Evelyn Underhill and now this one. Next time we meet…. this topic should be on the agenda.


  2. I love this story. To me it is a story of courage. A woman steps forward in faith. She makes her move out of desperation. Imagine her fear, yet she reaches out her hand, hoping. I love how it is phrased in the Message. Jesus turns to her and says, “courage daughter.” The first step is made in fear, anonymously, hesitantly. Jesus encourages courage after that first step. This story helps me step out of my own comfort zone. To “reach out” knowing that sometimes the courage comes after taking a first fearful step.

  3. Thanks Janelle. You’re right that there is much beauty in this story. It’s amazing to imagine the sensation she felt when the long-oh-so-long awaited healing took place. It must have been all she could do to sneak away quietly without bursting!

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