Jesus went with the synagogue ruler, and all the people followed, crowding around him. 25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. 26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. 28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.
30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”
31 His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” – Mark 5:18-34
What’s your top-of-the-list word for the Christian life? Hope? Love? Grace? Patience (longsuffering!)? Jesus? Faith? All of these are great words. Martin Luther identified as many as five words that were at the core of his teaching and confession: Faith alone. Grace alone. Christ alone. Scripture alone. For God’s glory alone. These were his top-of-the-list go-to words.
Jesus points us to one of these in this passage. Indeed, he makes a point of pointing to this one word again and again in his encounter with various people. A blind man asking Jesus to be given sight (Matthew 9:29). A mother, willing to be considered as a dog, pleading for her sick daughter (Matthew 15:28). A sinful woman who wet Jesus’ feet with her tears and then poured on expensive ointment (Luke 7:50). A one-in-ten leper who returned to thank Jesus for healing him (Luke 17:19). Jesus commends their faith.
Jesus makes a keen point: It’s not our conscientious religious performance that gains his attention and praise. It’s faith. Typically it’s faith of down-and-out folks that rises to the surface of Jesus’ acknowledgment and admiration. Jesus sees faith. Jesus commends faith. Jesus honors faith.
That’s because without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is essential. We may rightly love mercy, seek justice and walk humble with our God (cf. Micah 6:8). But without faith we cannot please God (cf. Hebrews 11:6).
So when this woman reaches out and touches Jesus’ garment, she is doing so in faith. It may be desperate. It may be trembling and fearful. It may be only a flicker. But it is faith. And Jesus is touched by people of faith – no matter how light the touch may be.