On Your Mark
Thinking, Saying, Doing
When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the
crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes,
I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body
that she was freed from her suffering. (Mark 5:27-29, NIV)
It was a definite no-no. She had no business being out in
public. According to the Law, everyone she touched became ritually impure,
thereby requiring them to take an inconvenient “time out” for isolation and
cleansing before they could return to normal life (Leviticus 15:25-27).
There was a crush of people around Jesus, and she
“contaminated” them all as she pressed through the crowd. But Jesus also had
been breaking the ritual rules in violating the Sabbath by casting out a demon
(Mark 1:21-28), permitting His disciples to pluck grain (2:23-28), and healing
The lesson is simple: Religious rules are made to be broken
when they get in the way of helping people, when they violate the law of love.
Jesus broke the legalistic rules. So did this woman. Those rules would have
barred her from approaching Jesus.
Clearly she’s concerned about His reaction to being
“defiled” since she comes up on Him from behind.
It’s interesting to compare Mark’s and Matthew’s accounts.
Matthew reports, “She said to herself, ‘If only I touch …” (Matthew 9:21);
while Mark notes, “She thought ….”
What you say is what you think; and what you think is what
This lady could have been thinking a lot of other things.
Her focus could have been on the discouragements of the past, all the suffering
from her doctors, and her exhausted bank account. She could have been thinking
that she might as well stay home and die.
But, when she heard Jesus was passing by, she began
thinking, If I can just get to Him, I’ll be well. And, as she thought it, she
said it. She was not going to give up. And once she said it, she did it —
she got up and went toward Jesus.
She represents all who do not give up on life, even in the
most hopeless and negative circumstances. For 12 years, the battle in her body
never let up, but she didn’t give in to the disease and become a hopeless and
negative person. Her thinking and her self-talk got her up off the couch and
out into the street.
She approached Jesus from behind, pushing her way through
the people pressed around Him. The moment she touched His cloak, her bleeding
Not only that, but “she felt in her body that she was freed
from her suffering.” The illness had brought more than physical impairment,
isolation and declining health. Suffering overarched it all. In that moment of
time when she touched Jesus, not only did her body recover but her whole life
When you are sick for an extended season, your suffering is
far more than the physical ravaging of your body. It can be spiritual, as in,
“Why, God, have You not come through for me?” Or relational, as in, “My family
has moved on and left me here.” Or psychological, as in, “I’m no good to anyone
This woman had borne sickness and sorrow but had never let
it crush her spirit. She did not let her illness corrupt her thought life or
make her a whining “poor me.” Her attitude and self-talk paved the way out of
A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, I come to You today with my own suffering. It
does me no good to be physically healthy if my thought life and self-talk
remain diseased. Through prayer, I touch You today with faith in my heart,
knowing that You will help me.
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies
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