I really don't enjoy crowds. I become very clausterphobic and easily irritated when I must participate in anything that resembles a crowd. I would rather have seats at that top of a stadium for a concert than be made to watch on the ground level with throngs of people pushing and pressing toward the stage. When I've had to travel through a crowded mall or airport with my kids, I grip their hands tightly and move quickly through to get out as fast as I can. I'm completely focused on self perservation in a crowd. Not so with Jesus.
Mark 5 is a chapter of much healing. In the second half of the chapter, Mark describes a scene that causes me to feel that panicky and clausterphobic: And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
At this point in His ministry, Christ was faced with the masses on a daily basis. News of this miracle maker traveled fast. Word of His clear, simple grace-filled teaching attracted the very people pushed aside by politics and religion. But this scene strikes me as this woman, with hemophilia, with no hope and with likely no friends who care, comes and merely touches the hem of His garment, through the crowd and He notices. I imagine her blindly clawing through legs and arms, hoping to reach and touch. Hoping this man was really who He said He was. Hoping and praying this could be the moment the bleeding stops, the moment she feels full again, the moment she feels like she belongs again.
Christ's touch brought sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. His reaching out brought about life and resurrection - but this touch came from the woman. It came from someone who had no right to touch or reach out. But Jesus tells her that HER faith made her well. It was not His garment or body that had the power, but HER act of reaching out and HER act of believing.
Only with the Holy Spirit do we have our awakening and our belief made possible. But I am struck over and over that Christ tells this woman that it was her action that set a miracle into action. Remember when the Glenda the Good Witch tells Dorothy she had the power within her all along to leave Oz and get back to her family? I don't mean to trivialize this message from Christ but I believe God is telling us, that He waits on us to reach out and make the first move. It's really very tender and sweet. God is not going to force Himself into our lives, He waits patiently.
Finally, with all the commotion and noise of the massive crowds, Jesus is sensitive enough that He perceives the needs of this woman. His own disciples dismiss him, but he says, "No, someone touched me, someone needs me..." Thank you God, that your son is so sensitive that in the calamity of this world, Jesus stops and turns and looks. The moment He feels the touch and the longing. He says, "You are faithful and healed."