Bible Study Lesson 04/30/2016
Key Scriptures: Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48
All three synoptic Gospels record the encounter of Jesus and the unnamed woman with the issue of blood. All three mention the length of time during which she had been suffering. Eusebius records a tradition that she was a Gentile, a native of Caesarea Philippi. This disease was a chronic hemorrhage, for which she had found no relief from the physicians. Lightfoot, in his ‘Horae Hebraicae,’ gives a list of the remedies applied in such cases, which seem quite sufficient to account for Mark’s statement that she was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse. Luke, himself a physician, says that she “had spent all her living upon physicians, and could not be healed of any.” (Pulpit commentary)
- Her Character and Her Dilemma: We don’t know her name, but we do know her situation. We don’t know all the intricate details about her resources, but we do know her need. Her world was midnight black. Grope in-the-dark and hope-for-help black. 1She was a bruised reed.
2.  The Hebrew children would often go down by the riverside to play. There was where the reeds grew. One of the things these reeds were useful for was that they made good flutes. So the children would cut them down, hollow them out and make flutes out of them. The riverbank would be full of these reeds, and many of them were less than perfect. If they came across one that was cracked or bruised, they would break it in half and toss it away. After all, they needed reeds of a certain quality in order to make a flute that would play well. Cracked or bruised reeds were worthless. Bruised reeds can easily be seen as symbols of people… in the eyes of the people that inhabited her world. She was bruised reed.
4. The woman with prolonged menstruation suffered for 12 years from being ritually unclean. This meant she was unable to live a normal life, and was in a sense dead to the people around her.
5. Strictly speaking, she should not have been among other people. According to the laws of ritual purity, she should have been at home during her menstrual period, living quietly (see Leviticus 15:19-31).
6. But the woman in this story was not healthy. Her menstrual flow had lasted twelve years, so the purity laws had become an impossible burden for her. She could not go out, she could not touch members of her family, she could not enjoy a normal life, and she was constantly debilitated.
7. She was a woman of faith: (Mark 5:27-28) She could not throw herself, therefore, at the feet of Christ and state her complaint. Her modesty, humility, uncleanness and pressure of the crowd made close contact nearly impossible, hence her eagerness to touch in some unnoticed way the hem of His garment.
8. This poor lady had sought all kinds of medical care and the doctors were no help: (Mark 5:26) William Barclay says in his commentary, that “the Talmud gives no fewer than eleven cures” for such an illness. Can you imagine, eleven different treatments … no doubt she had tried all of them. Even the illegitimate ones such as carrying the ashes of an ostrich egg in a linen cloth. But when you’re desperate for a cure, when you’re long overdue for some relief… anything to make you whole again…. Yes you might even consider hollow superstitions. She “had spent all she had”. So desperate was she for some kind of cure she kept throwing good money after bad. The money had finally run out and now to add insult to injury she has to deal with financial strain dumped on top of physical strain.
9. A Risky Decision: By the time she gets to Jesus, He’s busy and surrounded by a crowd of people. Jarius, the most important man in the community, had summoned him to help his daughter and Jesus was in route. Her window of opportunity was closing quickly and what little hope she had was fading. This woman is down to her last prayer and she is about to pray it. What are the odds that Jesus will interrupt an urgent mission with an important official to help her? Very few. But twelve years is a long time and what are the odds that she will survive if she doesn’t take a chance? Fewer still. Her back was up against the wall and against all odds… she steps out on faith and takes a chance. This is how the Amplified Bible describes the incident: Scripture says that she had heard the reports about Jesus and verses 27 & 28 state, “She slipped in from behind and touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” It was a risky decision. You should know this morning that exercising Faith means you must be willing to take some risk. To touch Jesus she had to touch the people. To get to Jesus she had to get pass the roadblocks. She had to get pass the possibility of rebuke, she had to get pass the possibility of being recognized. But what choice does she have? Our lady of faith is flat broke, she doesn’t have any clout like Jarius, she doesn’t have any friends, and she doesn’t have any solutions. All she has is a premonition, an intuitive feeling that Jesus can help her and a high hope that he will.
10. She Was Cured After Many Failures. What this poor woman really endured at the hands of the medical men of the time is left to the imagination. Where men failed, Christ succeeded. Down the ages men and women which no agency could reclaim have been restored by Christ. What is not possible with men is blessedly possible with God. Her disease was of long standing yet she was swiftly healed, for as soon as she touched the hem of His garment, “straight-way the fountain of her blood was dried up.” If a person suffers for a while from a complaint and seeks no medical advice, but in the end goes to the doctor, he invariably says, “You should have come to me sooner.” But it is the glory of Christ that He can heal those who come late to Him.
11. She Acknowledged Receipt of the Benefit Bestowed: As soon as the woman touched Christ’s garment, He felt that “virtue had gone out of Him,” and turned about and said, “Who touched me?” The disciples mildly rebuked Jesus by saying, “Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?” Perhaps her touch had been unnoticed by the eyes of those around, and she must have been one of many who touched the Master that day as he proceeded on His errand of love, but a touch of faith could not be hidden from Him. Quickly the Physician saw the patient and trembling with self-consciousness but too glad and grateful to falter, she confessed to her touch of His robe. “She told him all the truth.” She experienced that open confession is good for the soul. What a glow of gratitude her countenance must have had, as she publicly stated that her burden for twelve years had rolled away!
12. She Was Commended for Her Faith: The crowd who listened to her confession also heard the Savior’s benediction, “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” As a true daughter of Abraham (Luke 13:16), her faith is crowned by the Master. Hers was not faith without a touch, or a touch without faith. Believing, she appropriated and was healed. “Daughter,” was an endearing term for Jesus to use. Some tender insight of His own must have prompted Him to use it. As Theron Brown puts it so beautifully— The restored sufferer would never forget the friendly benignity that assailed her with one indulgent epithet or the sympathy in that endearing term by which the Messiah of Israel recognized her as His own…. She cherished her debt to the Man of Galilee.