In Mark 5, we learn about two wonderful Israelite women. At about the same time that the woman with the issue of blood began to bleed, Jairus and his wife became the parents of a baby girl. Over the next twelve years, the little girl grew and the hemorrhaging woman became worse. Their lives and needs converged on a narrow street in Capernaum to teach us about hope and the love of the Savior (see Mark 5:25,42).
The Woman With the Issue of Blood
We first meet the woman with the issue of blood when Jesus returns to Capernaum by boat from the land of the Gergesenes. Immediately upon his arrival, “much people gathered unto him” while He was still “nigh unto the sea” (Mark 5:21, 22).
As He walked those narrow streets, the people surrounded Him and thronged Him and pressed Him (see Luke 8:45). One of those people was the woman who had been afflicted with this awful malady.
Leviticus 15:19 instructed the congregation of Israel that a woman with a normal condition of menstruation was to be considered unclean and separated from the camp of Israel for seven days. If the issue of blood continued beyond the normal time, “all the days of her issue shall be as the days of her separation” (Lev. 15:25).
During that time, anyone who touched her was to be considered unclean for a day (Lev. 19:19), and touching the place where she slept or sat would result in the same restriction (Leviticus 15:25-30).
Such descriptions tell us something about the life of this woman. As a faithful Israelite and follower of the law of Moses, she must have been in physical isolation, without the comfort of a single touch, for one hundred and forty-four months—more than four thousand, three hundred and eighty days.
She had tried to find relief. In Mark 5:26, we are told that she “had suffered many things of many physicians.” Her longing to be cured and to return to a normal life had driven her from doctor to doctor until she “had spent all that she had.”
And the conclusion? “She was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.”
She Could Not Ask Him to Touch Her
This story must speak our hearts. How often in the midst of our own continuing trials do we drift from one useless solution to another, suffering pain and stress until we are driven to the Hope of the hopeless, as was the woman in Mark?
For she had heard of Jesus, the ultimate physician of both soul and body. She believed what we must all come to believe: Whatever Jesus lays his hands upon, whatever He touches, will live.
But how was she to approach Him? The ten lepers “lifted up their voices” (Luke 17:13, emphasis added). Another leper came “beseeching him . . .” (Mark 1:41, emphasis added). Even the diseased of Gennesaret “besought him” before they touched “the hem of his garment” (Matthew 14:34-36, emphasis added).
But this woman spoke not a word. Twelve years as a social outcast must have left scars upon her like canyons.
And she could not ask for the touch of His hands. That would make Him unclean.
Thus, she thought, “If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole” (Mark 5:28). And she “came in the press behind, and touched his garment” (Mark 5:27).
She was healed! What an explosion of joy must have consumed her as she felt the miracle!
Jesus felt the touch and knew that it was more than a touch. The Savior felt virtue (or power) go out of Him. He asked, “Who touched my clothes?” (Mark 5:30)
His disciples were astonished at His question. “Master,” they said, “the multitude throng thee and press upon thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?” (Luke 8:45). Everyone in the area probably wanted to touch Him, and in the confines of that narrow street, a great many must have. But this woman touched only the hem of his robe.
This woman helps us learn this important lesson: Jesus knows.
He is aware of our thoughts, our words, our deeds, and our needs. Our righteous reaching will always touch Him, and He will know. The very hairs of our heads are numbered! (see Matt. 10:30; Alma 40:23; D&C 84:80). Sparrows do not fall to the ground unnoticed! (Matthew 10:29).
He knows everything about us. Jacob said: “O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it” (2 Nephi 9:20).
When the woman realized He knew what had happened, she approached Him, “fearing and trembling” (Mark 5:33). With the miracle still burning inside, “falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him and how she was healed immediately” (Luke 8:47).
The Daughter of Jairus
The hemorrhaging woman approached Jesus while he was going to the home of Jairus, whose daughter, born about the time that the bleeding commenced, was dying. Like the woman with the hemorrhage, Jairus and his family must have called physicians and offered prayers. And like the woman, this child was not better, but worse. Jairus appealed to the Savior to come with these words, “My little daughter lieth at the point of death. I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live” (Mark 5:23).
The message of these stories is important. Jairus and the woman who touched Jesus’ garment both came to Him because they had no other options. Certainly Mark hoped to teach us this lesson. Somewhere between us and despair waits the golden hope of the Savior’s love.
Be Not Afraid!
As Jesus spoke to the woman, someone came from the home of Jairus with this message: “Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?” (Mark 5:35)
Imagine the pain caused by those words. Christ had healed the sick. Jairus knew that. The messenger knew it. But this was no longer a matter of sickness; the child was dead, and there are no previous New Testament accounts of Jesus raising the dead.
“Why troublest thou the master any further?”
Facing a father whose last hope for his dying daughter must have been torn from him, the Savior spoke at once: “Be not afraid, only believe.”
“Believe in what?” Jairus might have asked. How could he even begin to believe? While she was still alive, he could hope. But now?
Still, this Man of quiet power was there in the street speaking to him: “Be not afraid, only believe.” And he found that he could. Within a short time, his daughter was restored to him, alive.
Remember These Two
Almost all of us have reached out to Him in the tragedies and complexities of our lives, and have been changed by the contact that resulted from that reaching and touching. But we have also been touched by Him, as was Jairus’ daughter when He “took the damsel by the hand” (Mark 5:41) and healed her.
As we grow in our understanding of and love for the Savior, we must remember these two: the woman who was unclean for twelve years, and the girl who had been alive for only twelve years. They teach us two of the richest lessons about hope in the scriptures. They teach us that when we are at the end of our resources and abilities, we can reach out our hand to touch the Savior, or to invite the Savior to reach out His hand to touch us.
More about “Mark 5”
“Mark 5” was written by Ted Gibbons. The subject “Mark 5″ is important to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you would like to know more about Mormons with no obligation, please click on the following links: