Mark 5 contains the account of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus to life. As He is on the way to do so, this story occurs.
“And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. – Mark 5:24b-26
On the surface, suffering with a bleeding issue like this for twelve years would have been difficult enough. However, once we also factor in the emotional, social, and spiritual suffering that would have accompanied her physical ailment, we begin to get a better understanding of just how much she suffered. The Levitical law that the people of Israel would have been living under at the time sheds light on how this condition would have effected her life.
“If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean. Every bed on which she lies, all the days of her discharge, shall be to her as the bed of her impurity. And everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her menstrual impurity. And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.” – Leviticus 15:25-27
No wonder she spent all she had trying to get herself cured. She and anything she touched or anyone she touched would have been considered unclean. That means she would not have been able to enter into the temple to worship or be in the presence of the Lord for twelve years. Many people would have kept their distance from her so that they would not become unclean and so her relationships would have been greatly affected. From other stories (John 9) we know that the people of the time often thought–incorrectly–that illness, disease, or disability meant you were sinful in some way, so not only could she not go to the temple, but the people around her would have thought it was her sin that caused this and she deserved it in some way.
As the years passed and she grew more desperate trying to find a cure the condition only grew worse. To suffer physically for such a long time would have been a great trial, but to be shunned by others, to be judged for it, and to be unable to go to the temple and receive spiritual encouragement sounds nearly unbearable. She obviously thought losing all of her material possessions would have been worth it if only she could have been cured. At the end of her rope, she hears about Jesus.
“She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, ‘If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.’ And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. – Mark 5:28-29
Her faith is all the more remarkable when you consider that this is after having tried everything that was available to her for the past twelve years. Despite continual failure and a worsening condition, she believes that if she only touches Jesus’s garment she will be healed. No doctor or treatment could cure her, but she merely touching His clothes made her well instantly.
And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my garments?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’ And he looked around to see who had done it. 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. And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’ – Mark 5:30-34
Having a better understanding of all that her condition entailed gives added meaning to Jesus’s insistence on having a conversation with her. Jesus wasn’t content that she merely be physically healed. Her suffering had not been merely physical and so her healing needed to be more than just physical.
Because of her uncleanness, she had been practically barred from God’s presence under the Old Testament law. Jesus, who ushers in a new and better covenant (Hebrews 8), brings her into the presence of God in the flesh. Under the old covenant, the people had to purify themselves before they could enter into the presence of God. Jesus takes on humanity and enters into our presence and into our uncleanness in order to purify us so that we might be with God forever. Instead of her uncleanness barring her from the presence of Jesus, it His presence that heals her and cleanses her. In the same way that “While we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), while she was still unclean she entered into His presence and was made clean.
This woman would have been without peace during her time of sickness as she frantically searched for a solution. She would not have had peace with either the people around her or God because of her continual state of being unclean. When Jesus tells her to “go in peace”, He is speaking peace over her entire life. She now has peace with God through Jesus. This is why Christ came to earth, so that we could have peace with God.
Ephesians 2:14 says that Jesus “himself is our peace” and in John 14:27 Jesus says “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 5:1