In the press of events, we’re with Peter, wondering how Jesus can ask “Who touched me?” That’s because we don’t really understand Jesus’ question. He’s not unaware of being jostled, of being pushed, of people seeking, even demanding his attention. And strangely enough, we know that the hemorrhaging woman barely touched the hem of his cloak. Jesus, like His Father, remains unmoved by efforts to push or force him. The whirlwind, the earthquake, and the fire do not distract him. But he always responds to the trusting heart, always hears the still small voice—or even the unspoken cry—for help.
Jesus felt the power of God flowing to—someone. Perhaps he knew who it was. Perhaps he could discern which of the faces in the crowd looked to him for healing. Whether he knew or not, he refused to let the incident pass unnoted. Mark tells us:
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.
“Knowing what happened to her.” The crowd knew nothing, Peter was unaware, but Jesus and the woman both knew what had happened. That’s the thing about true faith, about truly trusting in God. You know. No one else may be able to see the change, certainly not at first. And it may be in such a personal, private way that it cannot be detected by the casual observer. Still, the change is real.
At the same time, she realized that, according to custom, she has done something both forbidden and outrageous. Ritually unclean, she intentionally came into contact with someone who was ritually pure, and without his knowledge. So she confesses, as it says, “with fear and trembling,” and “told him the whole truth.” She cannot truthfully say she is sorry, and yet, in her mind, it’s almost as if she has stolen something, as if she took something that does not belong to her.
And Luke says:
In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.
She has confessed the “theft,” and wonders what the penalty might be. Would her healing be revoked? Would she be stricken with something worse? In fact, she has nothing to worry about. Jesus lives to bless. He is eager to heal. She cannot take from God what He is not willing to give. So Jesus reassures her.
“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
There are few terms of endearment more tender than “son,” or “daughter.” “Daughter,” Jesus says, setting her mind at rest, “Your faith has healed you.” As we noted before, God is so eager to give us healing that the merest touch of faith accesses his healing power.
As far as her infraction of the rules, he says: “Go in peace.” Modern translation: No prob. We’re cool. It’s fine. And then he adds the final benediction: And be freed from your suffering.
So this tiny gem of a story comes to conclusion. What this unnamed woman accomplished defies comparison. We have many cases in scripture, indeed, in our own lives, where someone prayed for a specific blessing and received it. We know that God desires to bless us. But here we see something different. Jesus appears not to know who touched him. He appears not to have made a conscious choice to heal her. In other healings he has touched someone, or molded clay with his own hands, or at least said something, like, “Take up your bed and walk.” Here he says nothing until after the healing occurs. “Someone touched me;” he said. “I know that power has gone out from me.” The verbs are past tense. The touch has happened, and power flowed from him—apparently without his conscious choice for it to occur.
Now, I understand that the divine Christ must have known. But perhaps divine omniscience is one of the powers that Jesus laid aside when he became one of us. Perhaps the human Jesus did not know, was somehow surprised, caught unaware. I can’t say that I understand this. But it is clear that Jesus claims not to know, because, “Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.” And after she confesses, he tells her “Your faith has healed you.” Not “I healed you.” “Your faith has healed you.”
What this tells us is almost beyond comprehension. God is so eager to bless and heal us that it is his default response, that is to say, healing and blessing us is what happens—if such a thing is possible—automatically, without his volition, without his thinking about it. It’s like when someone gets close enough to high voltage electrical lines, the surging current leaps the remaining gap, a giant spark follows as the electricity goes to ground. Sometimes people ask if God is willing to forgive us, to save us, to heal us.This incident tells us that when faith reaches out to God, divine healing and salvation flows to faith and trust as surely and as automatically as electricity seeks the ground. When we reach out in faith to God, we unleash that mighty power in our lives!
There’s no comparable event in scripture. This unknown, never named, unfortunate, frail, ritually unclean, bleeding woman reached out, and in so doing revealed the amazing power of faith, the unlimited availability of divine power as no one else ever did. The closest match I can think of for this anonymous sufferer is Job. Just as the story of his trials disclosed a truth about the conflict between Christ and Satan that we find nowhere else, her act of faith uncovered something about Jesus that could be revealed in no other way. The stories of Job and the bleeding woman add to our understanding of God information that we would not have imagined, could not have made up. And that is why they are included in Scripture.
As Paul said:
Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!
This story demonstrates both that God’s ways truly are “past tracing out,” and that He is eager we should understand him and his unfathomable love for us.