As we noticed last time in Matthew 9:18-19, Jesus was en route to the house of a Jewish Synagogue leader whose daughter had either just died or was about to die. So, while He, the father of the girl, and His disciples were headed to the man’s house, He was interrupted by a desperate woman—a woman who had suffered for 12 years.
We’re not told exactly what the disorder she suffered from was, but we are told it was “a discharge of blood”. Speculation about what the discharge was would prove fruitless, in my opinion. If God had wanted us to know, He would have inspired the gospel writers to tell us. Suffice it to say, however, that this constant flow of blood made her an outcast from society. She couldn’t work. She couldn’t socialize. She was totally alone. And she was desperate.
First of all, she was desperate because she was cut off from contact with people. According to Leviticus 15:25, she was perpetually unclean and therefore anyone she came in contact with also became unclean. Add to that the obvious hygiene problems she must have had and you can imagine she must have been miserable. Secondly, as we read the other gospel accounts, we find she was desperate because she had tried all kinds of treatment for her condition and had spent all she had in doing so (Mark 5:26) without seeing any relief. A first century rabbi notes the kinds of “treatments” she had to endure.
"Take of gum Alexandria, of alum, and of crocus hortensis, the weight of a zuzee each; let them be bruised together, and given in wine to the woman that hath an issue of blood. But if this fail, "Take of Persian onions nine logs, boil them in wine, and give it to her to drink: and say, Arise from thy flux. But should this fail, "Set her in a place where two ways meet, and let her hold a cup of wine in her hand; and let somebody come behind and affright her, and say, Arise from thy flux. But should this do no good, "Take a handful of cummin and a handful of crocus, and a handful of faenu-greek; let these be boiled, and given her to drink, and say, Arise from thy flux. But should this also fail, "Dig seven trenches, and burn in them some cuttings of vines not yet circumcised (vines not four years old); and let her take in her hand a cup of wine, and let her be led from this trench and set down over that, and let her be removed from that, and set down over another: and in each removal say unto her, Arise from thy flux."
Can you imagine the heartbreak she must have felt every time one of these treatments failed? She was beyond hopeless. There was no light at the end of the tunnel and the only one who could truly help her was the Great Physician. We’re not told how she knew how to find Him, or how she knew about Him. For that matter, we’re not told what she knew about Him. But we are told that she had enough faith to touch the “hem of His garment” (probably some tassels on His robe). We read in Matthew 9:21 that she knew at least that He had healed others and believed that He could heal her as well. So, in faith, she touched Him.
Then, as quick as you could snap your fingers, the very instant she touched Him in fact, she was made well. She could tell in her body that something was different—her disease had been cured. She probably would have expected a rebuke from the crowd. In fact, the other gospels that record this miracle (Mark and Luke) state that she was timid about coming forward. Jesus wasn’t offended, however. This was no accident. She wasn’t healed by Him passively. No, this was a divine appointment and Jesus noted that He healed her because “your faith has made you well”.
Now, this doesn’t mean that all those who have saving faith will be healed of their diseases and it certainly doesn’t mean that healing miracles are available today. It does teach us those that when Jesus performed miracles such as this healing, they were proof that He was Who He said He was—the Son of God. They also show His love and compassion for people (“Take heart, daughter”).
Have you repented of your sins and trusted in Christ’s death and resurrection to save you from God’s wrath? If you haven’t, consider how kind and merciful Jesus was to this woman and know that He will show that same kindness and compassion to you if you will only place your faith in Him.