The Hem of His Garment

From The Power of Small

“If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed”
(Mark 5:28).

In the kingdom, no individual is small.
No one gets lost in the crowd. One person, even
one society has labeled worthless or impure, looms
large in the Father’s sight. The power of one small, helpless,
unspoken plea.

In Mark 5:21–43, tucked into the gospel, wedged into the story
of a high-profile healing, we find the story of a nameless woman who
suffered from an undiagnosed illness.

We only have a snapshot of her. She appears on the scene briefly.
We know one fact about her: she had been hemorrhaging for 12 years.
Because of the ritual impurity her condition entailed, we know that
for 12 years, no one has touched her. If a man had brushed up against
her, he would have been made unclean because of her impurity.
Imagine the times over the last 12 years that she had accidentally
defiled a man. Imagine her humiliation and shame as the man scolded
her and demeaned her. He would have had to rush home, tear off his
defiled clothes, and cleanse himself in elaborate ceremony. It was very
inconvenient to be touched by this impure one. Surely she had learned
to hide herself even in crowds. Surely she had learned to gather her
garments in closely, to cover her face, to become invisible.

Before we look at her story, notice how her story is framed. The
framing of a picture brings out the details, focuses the eye. Look how
her story is framed: it is framed by the story of Jairus.

Jairus, a leader in the synagogue—an important man, a man of
influence—burst through the crowd that mobbed Jesus and, tossing
aside all pride and dignity, threw himself at Jesus’ feet. No doubt the
crowd parted for such an esteemed man as Jairus. “Look! Here comes
Jairus! Make a way for Jairus!” they might have said. No doubt they
stared as he humbled himself and begged the Teacher, “My little
daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she
will be healed and live” (Mark 5:23). Jairus was a daddy, and his little
daughter was dying.

If you’re a daddy, and your little daughter is dying, then no price is
too high, no sacrifice too great. You’ll do anything. You’ll forget all your
pride and position. You’ll ignore every other duty.
If you’re a daddy, and your little daughter is dying.

The crowd followed as Jesus headed for Jairus’ house. They were not
a quiet, sedate crowd. They were calling His name and reaching out to
grab hold of Him; talking and shouting and clamoring for His attention.
As they moved in the direction of Jairus’ little daughter, I imagine that
the crowd grew as the word went out, “Jairus’ little daughter is dying!
Rabbi Jesus is going to her! Come along!”

A woman stood on the fringes, watching. Alone. Unclean. Her
uncleanness might rub off on anyone she came in contact with and
that person would be forced to go through a time-consuming cleansing
ritual to wash away her touch.

She had learned to be careful in public, avoiding brushing up
against another person. But a thought kept worming its way into her
imagination. “If I could just touch the hem of His garment, I would be
made well.” The thought grew stronger until, in a moment of reckless
hope, she began to work her way through the crowd. The crowd didn’t
part for her as it had for Jairus. She prayed not to be noticed because to
be noticed was to be rejected and humiliated.

Suddenly she was close enough to reach out and touch His hem and
she was flooded with His power. Her touch didn’t make Him unclean;
instead His touch made her clean. She felt the cleansing, healing power
of His touch transform her from death to life. Joy! Celebration!
Then, to her dismay, He stopped dead in His tracks. Brought the
whole crowd to a screeching halt. “Who touched Me?” He demanded.
She tried to hide, tried to disappear into the crowd, but He wouldn’t
stop asking, “Who touched Me?”

The crowd and the disciples were agitated. Why would He stop? He
was on His way to do an important job. Didn’t He remember Jairus’
agonized cry: “Jesus, my little daughter’s dying!”

There had been no daddy to part the crowds for the woman with the
issue of blood; no daddy to cry out on her behalf; no daddy whose heart
was breaking for her pain.

Or was there?

When at last, trembling in fear, she confessed that it was she who had
touched Him, He looked into her eyes and said, “Daughter!”

Maybe, then, it wasn’t just her touch that stopped Jesus in His tracks.
Maybe it wasn’t just her touch that caught His attention. Maybe it was
the voice of her Daddy whispering, “Jesus, My little daughter’s dying.”

You’ll stop at nothing, if you’re a Daddy, and your little daughter’s dying.

She had braced herself for the scorn she knew was coming. And
found instead that He looked her in the eyes and called her by a new
name: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed
from your suffering” (Mark 5:34).

Jesus was not satisfied just to heal her body. He wanted to heal her
soul. When the healing flooded her body, she had what she desired from
Him. But He did not have what He desired from her. He longed to bring
her into His presence where He could shower her with love. He wanted
to make her whole. He wanted her to know she had a Daddy.

Lost in the Crowd?

Do you ever feel lost in the crowd? Overlooked? Maybe even
judged? You might believe that if anyone could see through your
carefully crafted disguise—the veil you pull over the real you—he or
she would call you unclean. Do you keep your true self hidden behind
actions and lifestyle meant to protect you from scrutiny?

A moment of radical obedience. One step.

The Scripture says that we can live unveiled. “And we, who with
unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his
likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is
the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). We can live out loud and on display
because we are reflections of the Lord’s glory. That’s how people see
the reality of Christ in the world—through us living authentically and

Like the woman in Mark’s story, you have been flooded with the
presence of Jesus. Your shame has been removed. He can call you front
and center in front of the whole crowd and say, “Your faith has made
you whole.”

Small Change

Today be intentionally aware of the Father’s tender mercies and
loving kindness toward you. Let yourself enjoy His attention.
Revel in the fact that you are not a face in the crowd to Him, but rather
you are His dearly loved son or daughter. As you notice habits and
responses that you have developed to hide yourself, deliberately

About Jennifer Kennedy Dean

Author and speaker
This entry was posted in The Power of Small and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Hem of His Garment

  1. Cheryl Mohr says:

    I think I can guess what comes after “deliberately,” but I’d prefer to have your actual words. Thank you! I’ve been thinking about this story because of my own daughter’s “issue of blood” – – 7 months now! I’ll be sharing this with her. Please pray for her. She is a believer. Is this a “thorn in the flesh,” as with the Apostle Paul, or something else?

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