She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ (vs 27-28)

Mark 5:21-43 Sunday 27 June 2021

Psalm 30


This is a story of profound and urgent need for healing. As ever, Jesus is surrounded by a large crowd which, as usual, is pressing in upon him (v. 24). The space around that telling description of ‘pressing in’ is left for our imaginations to fill; and we fill it with people like ourselves, clamouring for our requests to be heard, noticed and attended to personally by Jesus. This small textual detail – 'pressing in' – opens up a hidden world of anguish and desperation that is still ever-present and all around us today. The faces in the crowd are just like ours.

And two people are made the focus of attention in Mark’s story, both unnamed. One is the daughter of Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, and the other is an anonymous woman. In his desperation to save his daughter, Jairus rushes to Jesus and begs for her life. In contrast to this 12-year-old girl, no one is identified as approaching Jesus and advocating the woman’s need for healing. She has to take matters literally into her own hands. In both cases faith in Jesus is the essential criterion which makes healing possible.

What the woman had heard about Jesus was just enough to make her seek him out at arm’s length. Undoubtedly she was desperate, and the text conveys this powerfully, with a real sense of this being a dramatic moment of last resort for her. She has faith enough to believe that this is a risk worth taking. And all of this is made possible by what others have said about Jesus’ ministry. In her network of relationships, and in the general conversations that occur around her, she has heard enough attention-grabbing evidence to trust that there is truth in what is being said. She has decided to trust the testimony of others, who in their many and various ways have prepared the way for her to make up her mind to reach out to him.

This contextual background chatter provides the essential cultural credibility which enables the woman to take the first steps in faith. Given what she has heard she is prepared to take a chance and reach out. The same is true for Jairus. Both of them cross the boundary of belief and open themselves to what God is doing in and through Jesus.

 And today? Faith in Jesus hardly predominates the background chatter, rather it seems conspicuous by its absence. Yet the need for grace, healing and wholeness is just as profound.

To Ponder:

  • What aspects of your self-worth keep you at arm’s length from a face to face encounter with God’s grace?
  • How might we bring ‘arm’s length’ seekers into a healing relationship with Jesus today?
  • What vital faith contribution to the background chatter are you prepared to make?


Loving Jesus, full of grace, help me to reach out to you that I may feel your love meeting me at the point of my greatest need.


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