Three Gospel writers record a miracle about a woman who had suffered for twelve years from hemorrhaging. Although there are differences between the Matthew account and the healing recorded in Mark and Luke, to dissect these records is not the purpose of this brief consideration. It should be noted that any discrepancies, so-called, are manufactured. The Bible is inerrant and apparent contradictions are usually not difficult to explain. Similar events happen regularly in life, which does not make them identical. Logically, many people suffer from similar diseases, and it should not seem unreasonable that Jesus healed many people suffering from like maladies. It should not seem unusual that two women would both be suffering from the same disease, as occurs among people today. Nevertheless, examining the differences is not the emphasis here.
In Matthew 9:20-22, Jesus and His disciples were on their way to heal a man’s daughter, and “suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, ‘If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.’ But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, ‘Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And the woman was made well from that hour.”
Mark 5:25-34 offers the most details of the instantaneous healing of a woman, unnamed, but significant in the Bible because of her determination and faith. She had a continuous bleeding condition, and “had suffered many things from many physicians.” She had spent all of her money on what medical care was available, as Luke 8:43 adds, but no one could help her, and she actually got worse.
Leviticus 15:19-30 addresses the condition this woman apparently suffered. “If a woman has a discharge, and the discharge from her body is blood, she shall be set apart seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. Everything that she lies on during her impurity shall be unclean; also everything that she sits on shall be unclean.” It goes on to say that anyone that touched any place where she had been sitting would be unclean. No man would lie with her, and if she had been married, her uncleanness was a legitimate reason for her husband to divorce her (Deuteronomy 24:1). According to the Law as stated in Leviticus, if her discharge went longer than normal, all the days of her impurity would make her unclean. In this case, it had been twelve years. She was desperate, and likely very lonely. She couldn’t touch anyone, nor could anyone touch her. She would have been shunned by everyone, including her family. She was not welcome in the synagogue or in any public place. Her life was wretched, but she had one last hope.
She heard of Jesus, and was willing to break social restrictions. She said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” She came behind Jesus in a crowd and touched His garment. She knew she was healed. She could feel it inside. Jesus stopped, turned around and asked, “Who touched My clothes?” His disciples thought His question was absurd. Peter said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” (Luke 8:45, 46) Jesus knew by revelation that something had happened and He looked around to see who had touched Him. Afraid and trembling, but undoubtedly excited about her miracle, she came and prostrated herself before Jesus, and told Him before everybody the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”
For twelve years she was an outcast, rejected by everyone. All of her money was gone and all of her efforts had failed. She literally had nothing to lose. When she heard of Jesus, she knew that if she could just get close enough to touch His garment, God would heal her. With unshakable resolve, she worked her way through the crowd of people, reached out her hand and simply touched Jesus’ garment. When Jesus called her “daughter,” He was fully accepting her back among the people of God. Her tenacity and believing action brought her a long awaited victory.