06 Who touched me? Mark 5:21-34

by | Jul 24, 2020 | 01 Podcasts, Mark

This question is addressed to the woman whose period didn’t end for 12 years. She was ritually unclean, isolated, sick and living a life that was going from bad to worse with no hope on the horizon. She touched Jesus in hopes of being healed physically, but Jesus stopped and offered her spiritual healing and a place in the community of believers.


  • The condition of the woman in the story is governed by Leviticus 15:25-28.
  • The laws on cleanliness are applied equally to men and women (see Leviticus 15:1-15).
  • The laws concerning cleanliness were physical symbols to teach us a spiritual reality.
  • In this woman’s case, the laws kept her socially isolated. Even her closet family members would stay away to avoid ritual contamination.


5:21And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.”  24And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.  25And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years,  26and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.  27She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment.  28For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.”  29And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’”  32And he looked around to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”  – Mark 5:21-34

  • The first person we meet, Jairus, is an important leader. The “synagogue official” is the person responsible for the supervision of the synagogue building and the arrangements for the services.
  • Apparently his daughter’s condition is so critical that Mark doesn’t record any verbal response from Jesus. They simply take off.
  • But then there is an interruption. A woman’s story intervened.
  • Jesus knew who touched him and he knew that she was healed. Jesus asks who touched him because he wants to teach the women something.
  • Jesus immediately turns around, looks her in the face and keeps looking.
  • The word “healed” (Mark 5:28; Mark 5:34) means healing in the ordinary sense in which medicine and doctors and processes of nature will heal illness over time. But it is also used for salvation. The interpretative question is which meaning does Jesus have in mind, particularly in Mark 5:34.
  • The woman was suffering emotionally and spiritually. Mark includes a lot of detail to give us the full impact of how difficult her situation is.
  • The woman is taking a risk by moving through the crowd since she is unclean.
  • Jesus seeks the woman, but does not force her to come to him.
  • She reached out for physical healing. Jesus turned to offer her salvation.
  • The great act of faith in this story was not touching his robe, but falling at his feet and telling her whole story.
  • Daughter is a term of endearment, a term of compassion and intimacy and acceptance. The outcast is now part of the family.
  • Jesus sought her out of the crowd to grant her more than physical healing — he wanted her to have a renewed spirit and a healed soul.

For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.

Next: 07 Why do you weep? Mark 5:35-43

Previous: 05 What is your name? Mark 5:1-20

Series: Questions Jesus Asked

Resources: Gospel of Mark

For help learning to study, see Bible Study 101.

Photo by Jaka Škrlep on Unsplash