Image of women kneeling and begging for the article on the woman with the issue of blood.

Jesus Honors the Woman With the Issue of Blood (Mark 5)

*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through my links (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read full disclosure here.

The second half of Mark 5 narrates the stories of two intertwined miracles. In one story, Jesus raises a young girl from the dead; in the other, Jesus heals a woman with the issue of blood. While the miracles are in themselves spectacular, the story of the woman has a deeper story of Jesus’ ultimate goal, to cleanse us from our sin. It is a gift given to even the lowliest of us.

(For a deeper dive, download my Bible Study on this story.)

The Story of the Woman with the Issue of Blood

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all recount her story.

Jesus is returning from delivering a man from demons on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. A crowd waits for him, and a man of importance from the synagogue asks him for his help. His daughter is dying, and he wants Jesus to heal her. Jesus obliges, and as he passes through the multitude, the woman with the issue of blood touches him. This stops Jesus in his tracks prompting him to ask, “Who touched me?

The woman in the story has been suffering from perpetual hemorrhage and believes she can be healed by just touching his garment. She is indeed healed and when Jesus asks who touched him, the woman is terrified, but she confesses everything to him. Why is she so scared? What role does her faith play? What is the greater message and what can we learn as women? We will explore the answers to these messages and so much more!

The Extent of Her Suffering

On the surface, we can all agree that hemorrhaging for 12 years would be devastating, but we can’t truly appreciate the level of her suffering without understanding ceremonial laws. In Leviticus, God identifies certain circumstances where people would be deemed ceremonially unclean. That meant that in that state, they could not approach the Tabernacle (where God was present at the time), and later the Temple, without first doing what was necessary to make themselves clean. Leviticus 15:31 gives a dire warning on the potential consequence if one even dared to approach the Tabernacle in that state.

Leviticus 15:19-31 states that a woman’s menstrual cycle was one of those periods of uncleanliness. If a bloody discharge was present beyond a typical menstrual period, verse 25 declares that a woman would remain unclean for the entire time. What does that mean for the woman with the issue of blood? She was deemed unclean for the entire 12 years of her condition.

Practically, what did that mean for her? She couldn’t go to the Temple to worship. She also could not touch anyone without rendering them unclean. Even the chairs she sat on or the bed she slept in would have been deemed unclean. Had she been married, that could have been grounds for divorce. She was essentially ostracized from religious, social, and family life. What a lonely existence!

But then Jesus!

A Woman Cleansed

In Matthew 5:17 we learn that Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. That is beautifully portrayed in the story of the woman with the issue of blood. If Jesus had come to abolish or nullify the law, He would have declared that her issue did not preclude her from going to the temple or spending time with friends or family. But He did not do that. The Law remained intact, but He did what she could not do. He cleansed her. He made a wrong that plagued her right.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Matthew 5:17 (ESV)

The laws regarding bodily discharges had both a practical and spiritual purpose. Practically, it protected Israel from disease, and from a scientific perspective, it was quite advanced for its time. Modern medicine didn’t discover that hand-washing was essential in preventing the spread of disease until the 19th century. God prescribed that for his people millennia before that.

But these laws also had a spiritual purpose. It reminded God’s people that sin was ingrained in us as a consequence of the fall. What a story state for all humanity!! The woman with the issue of blood felt that and lived that more than most, and boy would she also be one of the first to experience cleansing from the Savior of the world!

Jesus is not nullifying the law by healing her. I cannot overstate that. He is fulfilling it by becoming the instrument by which she could be cleansed and therefore approach the throne of God.

The Fringe of His Garment

In Luke 8:44 and Matthew 9:20, we get more specificity as to what part of the garment the woman touched. The fringe.

The Greek word behind the translation for “fringe” in Luke 8 is kraspedon. Kraspedon is a tassel Jews would put on their mantles to remind them of the law according to biblical usage per the Blue Letter Bible. Do you see the irony?

She was ostracised because of that very law, but who does that Law belong to? It belongs to the one who can cleanse her and make her right before the law. The one whose garment she touched!

A Woman of Faith

One of the peculiar aspects of this miracle is that it seemingly happens without Jesus’ prior knowledge (in His humanity, not divinity). When something unusual happens in the Bible, we should stop and pay attention. By doing so, we realize that it brings to the forefront the woman’s faith. Jesus says in Mark 5:34, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.”

Jesus praises her faith and only a few verses later He tells Jairus, a man of honor (per society), to “only believe.” The words, “like this woman believed” are almost implied. That is no small thing. She may have been a woman of shame (per society), but her faith among a sea of people singled her out.

A Man of Honor and a Woman of Shame

Her story is intertwined with that of Jairus, a ruler in the synagogue. As the society and culture were structured back then, he lived in a place of honor, while the woman lived in a place of shame. They both had desperate needs and Jesus certainly doesn’t diminish the need of the man of honor just because of his position, but he doesn’t ignore the need of the woman of shame either. In fact, he stops, and pauses, making the man of honor wait while he addresses the woman of shame.

What is consistent about Jesus’ behavior is that he elevates women to positions of honor. He did the same with the woman at the well. And he not only addresses her, but he addresses her with kindness.

As the King of kings, he certainly would have had the right to chide her for touching him in an unclean state and rendering all the people around her unclean. It was crowded after all and people were pushing up against Jesus. But He does not. Instead, he addresses her with a term of endearment, “Daughter.” How long had the woman waited to hear kind words like those? To be seen and beloved instead of rejected and shunned? Jesus changes everything!

What a beautiful moment that must have been for the woman. Not just because she was healed, but because she was seen and validated by the Messiah.

Jesus was very attuned to the plight of women at that time. The story of the woman with the issue of blood is no different. Jesus sees us and in our moments of desperation, he wants us too to reach for the hem of his garment.

To dive deeper into this account, download my Bible Study on the woman with the issue of blood. We will dive deeper into some of the Old Testament references and the Gospel message. Or you can get the full study, “Jesus Empowers Women” which includes this lesson and four others.

Other articles that might interest you:

If you liked this content, please share on…

Image with the words, "The woman with the issue of blood," and an image of an old art piece of a woman on the ground begging.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top