Most of the miracles of Christ were public affairs. Some were actually performed in private, like the healing of Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:40-41; 49-54), but all of them were requested publicly in some way. When Mary spoke to Jesus about providing more wine for the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-12), it was in earshot of some of the guests. When the blind man asked to be healed of his blindness, he was not shy at all: “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me!” he shouted (Luke 18:35-43). Even the lepers who were considered unclean and could not be in public places without declaring themselves unclean were very public about their request for healing: “They lifted up their voices, and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us’” (Luke 17:11).
Such was not the case when it came to the woman with the issue of blood.
(25) And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
(26) And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
(27) When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
(28) For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
(29) And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
(30) And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
(31) And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
(32) And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
(33) But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
(34) And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
Whatever the problem, the solution is always the same: Jesus Christ.
There have been theories as to the exact nature of her condition, but that is not the point of the story. The focus is on her healing and how Christ changed everything for her. Mark tells us she suffered with this condition for twelve years “and 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). Her suffering was very personal and caused her a great deal of anguish. In addition to the physical problems this condition caused her, it also made her ceremonially unclean, meaning she could not enter the synagogue to worship. She also had another “problem.” She was a woman, and in Jewish society of the time it was not a woman’s place to make public demands. So, she came to Jesus the only way she could: alone in a crowd. But she came to Christ like everyone else who had been transformed by Him. She came in faith: “For she said, ‘If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.’” (Mark 5:28). She was right. As soon as she touched Jesus’ garment, she was completely healed. Thankfully, the story does not end there, or we would never have heard of it.
“ And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’” (Mark 5:30)
We can certainly understand His disciples’ incredulity at the remark: And his disciples said unto him, “Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, ‘Who touched me?’” (Mark 5:31) But Jesus was insistent. This touch was not incidental. It was intentional, and God never lets intentional contact with Him go unnoticed. He rewards it.
When Jesus enters into our lives, our past is no longer the end of our story!
Having been found out, the woman steps forward and identifies herself by way of personal testimony, which is how God expects all believers to identify themselves: And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people for what cause she touched him, and how she was healed immediately (Luke 8:47). It had to be a little embarrassing to state before a crowd of strangers her reason for coming to Christ for healing, but if we’re really going to know saving faith we have to be honest about ourselves before God. What is wonderful is what Jesus says next: “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace” (Luke 8:48). Only Mark adds the phrase: “And be whole of thy plague” (Mark 5:34). What did Jesus do in telling her “Thy faith hath made the whole?” Of course, He confirmed her healing and her saving faith, but He also completely changed what defined her. She was no longer the woman with the issue of blood. That was no longer her focus and no longer her identity. She was now “the woman whose faith made her whole.” Would her past condition ever stop being a part of her story? No. But now it would never be the end of it. She had a new story to tell. Her past condition might serve as a way to tell that story, but now it would forever point people to Christ! When Paul addressed the Corinthians, he listed a bunch of things they used to be involved in. It was a shameful list, but he countered that by saying: “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). In Christ there are no “Christian drug addicts,” no “formerly alcoholic Christians.” There are only Christians. Just like the woman whom Jesus healed, we are no longer defined by our past. Can there be consequences attached to us because of our past? Yes, but that does not change who we are in Christ. In fact, our being in Christ gives us the ability to successfully endure the consequences of our past, but our past still does not define us. It will always be a part of our story, but because of Christ, it is no longer the end of it! It is an opportunity to tell others about what Christ did to transform us.