Matthew 8:20-22; Mark 5: 25-34; Luke 8: 43-48
As Jesus traveled around throughout the country teaching and working miracles He was approached by “a certain ruler” of the synagogue named Jarius. Jarius knelt before Jesus and begged, “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.” (Mark 5:23) Jesus went with Jarius right away but “much people followed him, and thronged him.” (Mark 5:24) As He made his way through the crowd a woman with an issue of blood touched His robe.
Facts About Her:
- She was “diseased with an issue of blood twelve years” (Matt. 9:20)
- She had “suffered many things of many physicians” and had spent “ all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.” (Mark 5: 26);
- She had heard of Jesus and when she saw He was near she joined in the throng of people following Him as He made His way to Jarius’ house. She said within herself,“ If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.” ( Matt. 9: 21);
- She came behind Him and touched the hem of His garment ( Matt 9:20). As soon as she touched Him “the fountain of her blood was dried up” and she “felt in her body that she was healed of that plague” ( Mark 5: 29);
- As soon as she touched Him Christ "immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him” (Mark 5:30) stopped and asked “Who touched me?” Everyone around Him denied it and Peter asked him “ Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee and sayest thou, Who touched me?” (Luke 8: 45).
- When the woman saw that she was unable to hide from the Lord 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.” (Luke 8: 47)
- Christ looked on her and told her, “Daughter be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)
Speculations About Her:
- Under the Mosaic law a woman with an issue of blood (referring to menstrual or postpartum bleeding) was considered unclean and was “put apart” for 7 days. During this time anything she lay on or sat on was considered “unclean” meaning that if anyone touched one of those things he would have to wash his clothes and bathe in water to become clean again. Also during this time if any man was sexually intimate with her he was also unclean for 7 days and must adhere to the same sort of “setting apart” as a woman (and actually the guidelines for a man who has an issue of blood, or who was unclean were more strict than for women, see Leviticus 15:1-30).
- The Mosaic Law also specified that if a woman had an issue of blood that lasted longer then 7 days that all the days of her issue were considered unclean and she must be treated as such (Leviticus 15: 25). This means that this woman had probably been unclean for 12 years and that she had to live “put apart” from others for all that time. If she had been married her husband probably would have divorced her as she would have been unable to care for her children or for others without making them all unclean. Her unclean status would also have meant that she was probably unable to attend the temple or other worship services.
- I did a quick Google search for information about “prolonged menstruation” and I discovered that today this woman probably would have been diagnoses with menorrhagia, which is abnormally heavy and long menstruation that causes enough cramping and blood loss that it makes normal daily activities impossible. The scriptures are right in calling it a “hemorrhage” because the amount of blood lost is significant—enough to fill a maxi pad at least every hour for several weeks (not to mention 12 years!). According to the Mayo Clinic common causes of menorrhagia are:
- Uterine fibroids, non-cancerous growths of the uterus wall
- Endometrial hyperplasia, a thickened endometrium
- A bleeding disorder, like von Willebrand disease
- Problems with clotting
- Thyroid functioning
- Glandular issues
- Ovarian cysts
- Uterine polyps
In the scriptures it say that the woman spent all of her living upon physicians who could not help her. Today physicians are usually able to treat or control menorrhagia with hormone pills but in severe cases hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) and endometrial ablation or resection (which permanently destroys the entire lining of the uterus) are used to treat it. It is incredible that Jesus was able to heal this woman with only His touch.
I have been thinking about this woman a lot over the last several months. Her story has always intrigued me, but after the little miracle that happened after Abraham's birth this story means something much more to me. As I’ve related before, after Abraham was born I had some complications with my placenta detaching. We were about to head to the hospital to have a somewhat serious procedure done when my midwife asked if Jon would give me a Priesthood blessing. I remember as he laid his hands on my head feeling at peace about things, but also feeling a little doubtful that a priesthood blessing would be able to fix everything. So it was an incredible feeling to feel my body, not even a minute after Jon finished his blessing, give a strong contraction. I felt all the membranes release and felt an amazing flow of placenta come out of me. It was truly a miracle and as soon as it happened I started to cry, not out of pain or relief, but out of gratitude and amazement. I knew that God had just performed a miracle for me and my heart was overwhelmed. I hadn’t thought I had enough faith to have something so miraculous happen to me, but as I’ve pondered on this experience the last several months I’ve come to see that God doesn’t require us to have unshakable, unwavering, moving mountains kind of faith in order to work miracles in our lives. Sometimes, just like the woman with the issue of blood all we need to do is have enough faith to just barely touch the hem of Christ’s garment. If we can do that, then He can use His miraculous power on our behalf.
I can only imagine that after twelve years of constant blood loss that this woman must have suffered from anemia and it probably took most of the physical strength she had to even make it to Christ. I can just imagine her, exhausted and suffocated by the crowd, desperate to make it to Christ. When she knew she couldn’t go any further she fell to her knees saying within herself,“ If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole" ( Matt. 9: 21) and reaching out her hand just as He passed by. That was all it took. She didn’t have to speak to Him, she didn’t have to tell Him what it was she needed, she just had to have enough faith to reach out to Him.
What happens next is my favorite part of the story. As soon as she realized she was healed she tried to hide back into the crowd. She was probably afraid because she had just touched Jesus and made Him ritually unclean, as well as just about everyone else in the crowd. Once they knew she had touched them they would all have to go wash and change their clothes. Yet, she knew that she had been healed and she knew that Jesus knew it. When she saw that she could not hide from the Lord she "came trembling" , fell at Christ's feet, and bore testimony to the crowd of the miracle that had happened to her.
Several years ago our Ward choir sang a song called “Come Touch the Robe” which tells the story of the woman with the issue of blood and invites everyone to come unto Christ-- to touch His robe and be healed physically and spiritually.
It is a beautiful song and I have been thinking about it a lot the last few months. I asked our choir director if we could sing it again this year and after some pondering she said she felt like the Lord wanted me to sing the solo, the part of the woman with the issue of blood. I am not a strong singer. I’ve sung two solos in my life and both times I thought I might die of fright before they were over. Yet I knew, just like the choir director knew, that I needed to sing this song. I had been healed by the Savior and, like the woman with the issue of blood, I knew that I needed to bear testimony of the great miracle that Christ had performed for me.
I sang the song last week in church and even though no one in the audience except for my husband, the choir director, and some of my knew the experience I had and why I was singing the song, it was really beautiful for me to share my testimony. Like the woman with the issue of blood I know that Christ can fix what seems unfixable. His power and mercy know no bounds and all we have to do to access it is have faith to reach out and touch the hem-- just the hem-- of His robe.
Questions to Think About:
- Why do you think that this woman’s story is included in three of the Gospels? What is it about her story that made Matthew, Luke and Mark think it was important enough to share?
- We know that God and Christ are in perfect accordance with The Law. This means that they are perfectly obedient to both spiritual and physical laws. This means that even miracles must obey the physical and spiritual laws of the earth in order to occur, and so it intrigues me how Christ healed people (of seemingly incurable thing like blindness) by only touching them. What physical process that we don’t understand did Christ use to heal her body completely through only a touch-- and not even the touch of His hand, merely His clothing?
- What possible significance do you see in the fact that the daughter of Jarius, whom Christ raised from the dead was 12 yeas-old (around the age when girls start menstruation) and that this woman who was healed by Jesus had been suffering with her “ issue of blood” for 12 years? Coincidence?
- How can you relate to this woman? When have you “touched” Christ?