“Who touched me?” (Mark 5:32).
The two miracles in this Gospel passage are so tightly woven together, we might think of them as a single miracle that leaps from the woman to the little girl through Jesus.
Mark’s Gospel, thought to be the earliest written, offers us a curious look at Jesus, who seems to learn as he goes what it means for him to be God's messenger, a process Mark calls his “messianic secret.” One way to describe this has been to say that Jesus was a different kind of messiah—a suffering servant—rather than a warrior king, and so to avoid misunderstanding, Jesus tells people not to reveal his identity. But another way to understand this is to say that the secret lies in Jesus’ own unfolding grasp of how God is revealing the kingdom through him. In Mark, Jesus deflects credit for miracles, telling people that it is their faith that has healed them. Mark even records that where faith was lacking, Jesus was unable to perform miracles. Today’s reading from Mark 5 illustrates some of these themes.
The woman with the hemorrhage draws power from Jesus by touching his cloak in the crowd. Jesus is unaware until the healing occurs. He stops to ask, “Who touched me?” and the woman comes forward to reveal her healing. Jesus is on his way to the house of Jairus, whose daughter is dying. The woman’s faith instills the moment with profound promise. Jesus pushes forward, telling Jairus not to lose faith, even as messengers arrive to say that his daughter is dead. The professional mourners ridicule Jesus, but he puts them out, taking his disciples and the girl’s parents into the room where her body is lying. Jesus takes her by the hand, tells her to rise, and the girl is alive again. Faith has done this, a continuous flow of faith from the woman in the crowd to the parents and, so it seems, to Jesus himself. The kingdom is at hand where faith draws it forth.
For us, perhaps the real messianic secret is that this same power is always available to us if we believe in it. Where fear and doubt overwhelm us, faith withers and nothing can happen. But where faith flows and grows and is passed along, miracles happen. Could it be that the real messianic secret is about us?