Touching in the Throng
Mark 5:21-43
And when Jesus was passed over again by ship to the other side, much people gathered to him: and he was near to the sea.…

I. The woman with an issue of blood.

1. A painful disease. The woman mentioned in this section had been a sorely afflicted sufferer. For twelve long and weary years she had suffered from a painful and weakening malady (ἐν ῤύσει, the preposition ἐν here resembles the beth essentive of Hebrew, denoting in the capacity, character, or condition of, i.e. in the condition of an issue). During that time, we may well suppose, she had sought every means of cure; and found none. During that time she had applied to various physicians; but obtained no relief. During that time she had, no doubt, taken many a bitter draught and many a nauseous drug; but all to no purpose. During that time she had, doubtless, submitted to many severe experiments or even some harsh operations; but all in vain. During that time she had expended much, yea, all her means; she "had spent," we are told, "all her living upon physicians," and that in addition to her sufferings, as is implied by the prepositional element in the word (προσαναλώσασα) employed by St. Luke; while St. Mark tells us plainly in this passage that she "had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had." And now she remains poor and destitute, diseased and weak, and miserable as ever; for she "was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse;" "neither could be healed of any." What is she now to do? Where is she to seek relief? To whom can she further go? Is there any application she can yet make? Or is there any remedy still remaining to be tried?

2. One resource yet remains. She has tried all the physicians; she has tried all means of cure that have been prescribed, or suggested, or that she has ever heard of; she has, besides, spent her all in quest of health. Still one, and only one, remains to be tried. She has heard of a wondrous Man who goes about continually, doing good; she has been told of most wonderful cures he has effected; of diseases, previously deemed incurable, which he has healed; of sufferers whom, when all else failed, he has relieved. She has never seen him, it is true - she has only heard of him; but what of that? Though she has not seen him, she has no reason to doubt the reports she has heard of him; she has no reason to doubt the greatness of his power and the might of his mercy, in accordance with these reports; she believes the accuracy of these reports, she has somehow confidence in their correctness. She has schooled herself into faith in his power to effect her cure and heal her disease.

3. Obstacles to be overcome. A difficulty here presents itself. Her disease is peculiar - such a one as she is loth to name in public. She cannot bring herself to talk of it in presence of so many people; womanly delicacy forbids her. Besides, it was such a disease as caused ceremonial uncleanness, so that her contact was polluting. People would, not without reason, upbraid her for coming among them, or thrust her away from them, as impure and contaminating.

4. A happy thought. A happy thought occurred to her in her difficult position - a thought which we may regard at once as the outcome of strong faith, and the suggestion of deep affliction. It flashed on her mind as a bright idea. She had heard that the great Physician, to whom her thoughts now turned, often accomplished his cures and conferred health by a touch. She naturally infers that if she could but touch him even stealthily, her cure would be effected. Accordingly she conceived the thought of stealing a cure; she thought within herself, "If I may touch but his clothes," or his garment, or even the border of it, "I shall be whole."

5. Pressure of the crowd. Our Lord at this time was on his way to the house of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, in order to cure his daughter. The crowd that followed him on the occasion was unusually large. It was drawn together by respect for the distinguished official whose daughter was so ill, as also by the remembrance of past miracles, and the prospect of seeing the performance of another. Dense as the crowd was, she kept to her purpose, pressing onward through it, and elbowing her way till she had got up to his very side.

6. The cure effected, but concealment impossible. She attains her object; she touches the hem of his garment, and all at once - strange circumstance! blessed relief! - the malady of many years' standing is healed, the issue is staunched, the pain and grief have ceased. But a disquieting circumstance still remains; a matter of some uneasiness has now to be got over. She is cured, it is true, but she is struck with terror at her own temerity; she is filled with alarm when she sees Jesus looking round inquisitively (περιεβλέπετο, imperfect, equivalent to "he kept looking all round"), and hears him earnestly asking those about him, "Who touched me?" She knew that her touch was polluting; she was well aware that it conveyed ceremonial defilement. She had, indeed, only touched the hem - the extreme border of his garment, as if in hope that so slight a touch would defile him but little, while it might benefit her so much.

7. Astonishment of the bystanders. The persons next our Lord in the crowd were amazed at the question; some would be disposed to say in reply, "All touched thee," and others, again, would be inclined to think and to say, when they gave expression to their thought, "None touched thee." At length, after all had denied, Peter as usual, acting as spokesman of the disciples, said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee [συνθλίβοντα, equivalent to 'pressing greatly, or pressing upon on every side'], and sayest thou, Who touched me?" "Not so," says our Lord; "all the persons in this large crowd do indeed throng and press around me, and yet but one touched me - ' somebody touched me.'"

8. Surprising graciousness of the Saviour. Our Lord looked round to discover the one individual in all that crowd who had touched him. At last his eye rested on the abashed, affrighted woman; when, lo! instead of a rebuke for her temerity, instead of a sharp reproof for her audacity, instead of a harsh reprimand for her polluting touch, instead of blaming her for her presumption, instead of a single unkind expression of any sort, he commends her faith, confirms her cure, ratifies her desire, and gladdens her heart by these most gracious words, "Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace."


1. There must be contact. The first thing we are taught by it is that, in coming to Christ and in seeking cure from him, there must be not merely contiguity but actual contact, and that of a peculiar kind. All the persons in the great crowd that followed our Lord on this occasion were near him comparatively, some were quite close to him; yet only one derived benefit from him. There were, moreover, several, we can scarcely doubt, in that multitude who needed some temporal boon or spiritual blessing; yet only one obtained such a blessing. There were numbers of persons all around and on every side of him; yet virtue proceeded from him only in one direction. Not only so; mere contact itself is not sufficient. Intelligent connection - special and spiritual contact - is needed. There were many crowding on and crushing our Saviour, yet only one touched him in the true and proper sense. The motives that moved that multitude were various. Some were borne thoughtlessly along with the mass of persons that formed the procession; they went with the crowd. Others, and perhaps the major part, were attracted by curiosity - they were desirous of seeing some miracle; or they had itching ears, and hoped to hear some startling statement. Others, again, were, no doubt, drawn into the crowd by feelings of admiration for the Saviour. While various motives thus actuated the individuals that composed that crowd - the units that made up that multitude; only one, it would seem, was influenced by the right motive; only one approached the Saviour in the right way; only one at that time was healed.

2. Her feelings and her faith. That one individual felt the misery of her condition, the iron had entered deeply into her soul; that one felt intensely her need of health. That one, besides, had resolved to overcome every obstacle in order to obtain relief. That one, also, was fully persuaded that Christ could confer health and cure. Nay, she felt assured that, as he frequently touched the persons cured by him, a touch of his person, or even of his clothes, or if it were but of the border of his garment or of the fringe of his robe, would make her whole. Now, here was faith - true faith, strong faith; and this faith it was that made the difference between her touch and that of the crowd that pressed upon him - between the multitude that thronged him and the woman that touched him. Others touched him, but their touch was incidental; hers was intentional. Others touched him, but it was owing to the pressure around; hers was from a deliberate purpose within. Others touched him, not feeling any need of help at his hand, or, if they felt any need, yet not expecting any relief in that way; she touched him, conscious of her malady and convinced of his power to effect her cure. Others touched him, but then it was curiosity, chance as the world calls it, the crowd, the multitude, the pressure that brought them into such close proximity to Christ; she touched him, but it was the result of deliberation on her part, design, earnest purpose, strong desire, anxious hope of cure, and confident expectation of deliverance. There was thus all the difference in the world between the thronging of that multitude and the touching of that invalid. Faith is thus seen to be the means of union with Christ, and union not mechanical and physical, but union rational and spiritual. We may approach him by ceremonies, by profession, by lifeless prayers, by dead works; but in none of these cases do we really touch him: and not coming into living contact with him, we cannot expect to be recognized by him.

3. An example worth imitation. We may profit by the example of this poor invalided woman as contrasted with that great crowd. We cannot agree with those who disapprove of thronging the Saviour, while they approve of touching him. We approve of both. It is good to be in the throng that crowds round Christ, if only one should be healed at a time, for you yourself may be that one, while all that are far from him shall perish. It is good to be near the pool of Bethesda, for some one is sure to be cured every time the angel troubles the waters, and you yourself may be the happy individual. It is good to wait at the posts of wisdom's door, for that is the way of duty, and the way of duty is the way of safety. But while it is good to be in the crowd that throngs Christ, it is better - far better to touch Christ. There must be real union - complete connection with Christ. The electric telegraph, one of the greatest wonders of a marvellous age - those wonderful wires that pass over lands and under seas, connecting Ireland with Britain, and Britain with the Continent, and one continent with another; that link the Old World with the New, flashing its messages over more than half the globe, thus facilitating the intercommunion of nations, and expediting the exchange of intelligence from East to West and from West to East; - if those electric wires stretched from one place on the earth's surface to another hundreds of miles remote, and if they reached very near to that other place, just within a yard, or a foot, or an inch, and yet stopped short by that small interval; no communion could be carried on, and no intelligence conveyed. Its hundreds of miles of extent would be unavailing; that yard, or foot, or inch would render the whole useless, and cause all the labour to be lost. It might as well stretch only three-fourths of the way, or one-half the way, or one quarter of the way, or no part of the way at all. Nothing short of a close and complete uniting of the two places, and that without any interval, will do. Alas! how many come close up to Christ, but never close with him. How many are in the throng that never touch him How many there are like the young man in the Gospel - that amiable young man whom our Lord loved, who did so much, and went so far, and yet after all came short! They seem to be very close to Christ, and very near his cross; but there is one link wanting - "One thing thou lackest." How many are at the very threshold of the kingdom of Heaven, and ready to say with Agrippa, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian:" and yet they never cross the threshold, nor enter the kingdom, nor become Christians, in the true and proper sense, at all! How many are on the spot at the very time when Christ is passing by, without ever touching so much as the fringe of his garment! How many frequent the place where his presence is promised and his blessing bestowed; and yet they never feel the one nor enjoy the other! There is nourishment in food, but you must partake of it; or the most wholesome food will do you no good and give you no strength. There is sweetness in music, but you must have an ear for it and give ear to it; else the sweetest music will be but mere noise - an empty sound. There is fragrance in the rose, but your olfactory nerves must be sound and sufficiently near the odoriferous flower; or its fragrance will be wasted on desert air! The electric current is a potent agency, as we have seen, but it must needs have the electric wire to pass along; or it loses its practical utility. In view of such facts and considerations, our duty as well as interest is, by grace, to realize union with Christ; we should give no sleep to our eyes, nor slumber to our eyelids, until by grace, through faith, we are united to Christ, and one with him - Christ in us and we in Christ, Christ our life, and our life devoted to Christ. For while Christ is able to save, and waiting and willing to save, and while God sent his Son to seek and save that which was lost; yet there must be faith, or we cannot be saved. let us, therefore, seek the aid of God's Holy Spirit, that he may form the link of faith between our soul and the Saviour; or, if it already exist, that he may strengthen and brighten it

4. How healing virtue is obtainable from Christ. There was healing power in the Saviour - inherent in him, in him alone, and in none besides. This poor invalid drew it forth by the touch of faith. The virtue to heal that proceeded from Christ may be compared to the electric current, while the faith of the woman may be likened to the wires along which it passed. Now, if faith be the gift of God, as it is, and the operation of his Spirit as we know from his Word, it may be asked, "Why blame any for the want of it?" We do not and cannot with fairness, blame for want of it; but we may blame persons for not asking it, for not wishing for it, for not seeking it, or for not accepting it. If God gave his Son before you asked him, and without you asking him, "will he not with him also freely give you all things;" in other words, will he not give you faith in him for the asking? If he have given the greater gift, will he withhold or refuse the less? If he has promised his Spirit to them that ask him, and if he invites us and presses us to ask him, do we not tempt God when we refuse to ask him, seeing it is the Spirit that works faith in the heart of man? We are far, very far, from ignoring or overlooking the sovereign grace of God, whereby he takes one out of a city and two out of a family and brings them to Zion: but if we refuse the course that God has prescribed to us; if we reject the conditions on which he offers grace and every mercy; if we neglect the ordinances where he has appointed to meet and bless us, or if, attending them, we forget the object for which we are urged to attend them, or if we use the means without thinking of the great end we should have in view, or if we are not at pains to examine our motives, or if we have no care to meet Christ in his ordinances no longing for his presence, no thirsting for his grace, no hungering for his righteousness, no earnest inquiry, "What must we do to be saved?" and no seeking of the fulfillment of the promises; - in all such, or any such cases, are we not thronging Christ instead of touching him? If custom, or curiosity, or the crowd, or habit, or respectability, or worldly advantage, or early training, brings us near to Christ, and if we have no higher object and no holier end in view, are we not thronging Christ, and yet not touching Christ? "Many," we know from the declaration of God's own Word, "will say, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then," adds the Saviour, "will I profess unto them, I never knew you." What was all this more or better than thronging Christ without touching him?

5. Confession consequent on cure. She sought Christ privately, but was obliged to confess publicly. So with ourselves; we must confess his name before men, and tell of the gracious Saviour we have found; just as the psalmist says, "Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul." "With the heart men believe unto righteousness, and with the mouth make confession unto salvation."

6. Character of the cure. The cure was immediate; "from that hour." It was complete; the fountain was staunched. It was perpetual; "Be thou whole." This our Lord probably added lest she should think the cure too sudden to continue, too speedy to last, too good news to be true. Not so; it was no transient remedy, no mere temporary relief. All that God does is well done; he does not leave any part of his work unfinished. Having" begun a good work in us, he will perform [rather, perfect] it till the day of Jesus Christ." The testimony to the Saviour's work on earth was that "he hath done all things well."

7. Peculiarity of expression. The words εἰς εἰρήνην are properly "into peace," which refer more to the future than to the present. Peace is not only the present element in which she finds herself, but the future sphere in which her life is to move. Brought into peace by the great Peacemaker, she is ever after to continue therein. The addition of the words ἴσθι ὑγιὴς was not superfluous, but most reassuring, in order to ratify the stolen cure and to convince her of its durability and permanence. Further, we may notice the relation of the πίστις of the woman to the δύναμις of the Saviour. The former saved her mediately, or instrumentally, that is, as the connecting link between herself and Christ; the latter was the healing power of Christ, which, working along the line of that faith, saved her as the energetic and efficient cause.


1. Position of Jairus. The official position of Jairus was highly respectable. He was ruler of the synagogue. Though there is some difference of opinion on the subject, yet the officers of the synagogue appear to have been the following: -

(1) The ruler or president of the synagogue, on whom devolved the right ordering and regulation of the service, and with whom were conjoined the elders;

(2) the sheliach tsibbor, the angel or messenger of the congregation, who offered up the public prayers, and who acted as secretary to conduct the correspondence, or to serve as deputy, when required, between one synagogue and another;

(3) the chazzan (ὑπηρέτης), or ordinary reader, who read the appointed portions, or who handed the book to an occasional reader; he also had charge of the sacred books;

(4) the διάκονος, or, or sexton.

2. The substantial harmony of the narratives. The ruler of the synagogue, according to St. Mark, tells our Lord that his daughter (ἐσχάτως ἔχει) is extremely, ill, "at the point of death" - in fact, in extremis; according to St. Matthew, that (ἄρτι ἐτελεύτησεν) she is dead by this time - " even now dead; "she was so ill when he left that he did not now expect to see her again alive when he returned; according to. St. Luke, that (ἀπέθνησκεν) she was dying, or "lay a dying;" - all perfectly consistent.

3. The special tenderness of the parent. Though St. Mark very frequently employs diminutives with little, if any, difference from the simpler form, yet we see good reason for his use of the diminutive θυγάτριον here. It becomes a term of special endearment and affectionate tenderness in this place, from the circumstance, of which another evangelist, St. Luke, apprises us, namely, that this little girl was an only daughter (θυγάτηρ μονογενὴς), perhaps, indeed most probably, an only child. We can easily imagine the terrible uneasiness of the father, when our Lord had been delayed by the unwelcome incident of the cure of the woman with the bloody issue. Jairus must have looked on this as a most provoking and unpleasant interruption; and now that the messengers bring word that his daughter is dead, and so his worst fears realized, he and they evidently give up all for lost. The great Healer might have restored her to health, however ill, or however far gone she might have been; but how can he restore her to life now that she is dead?

4. Jesus power over death. He had heard, or, if we read a compound of the same word, though slightly supported παρακούσας he had overheard the conversation between the messengers and Jairus; he had heard them dissuade the ruler from fatiguing with the length of the journey, or in any other way worrying the Physician (σκύλλεις, root σκῦλον, spoils, means "to spoil, despoil, flay, trouble, harass, or worry"), as it was only bootless labour - quite useless work - for the child was dead. Our Lord tried to revive the father's hopes, encourage his fainting heart, and strengthen his weak faith, saying, "Do not be afraid, only believe." The mourners, especially the hired mourners, who were making so much ado, and beating themselves (ἐκόπτοντο), in grief more seeming than sincere, began to deride our Lord, or laugh him down (κατεγέλων). In fact., they did not wish her restored, lest perhaps their occupation would be gone. Taking the maiden by the hand, he addressed her, in the vernacular Aramaic of the district, saying," Talitha cumi, Maid, arise." Straightway she arose and walked; her motion proved strength, and strength and motion belong to life; and so death, after all, is a sleep, from which the Saviour brings awakening. His power over every stage of death appears by the restoration of one just departed as this maiden; of one being carried out to burial, as the son of the widow of Nain; of one already in the grave four days, as lazarus.

5. Practical character o/our Lord. When Simon's mother-in-law was cured, she turned to her domestic duties; when this young girl of twelve years of age was restored, she walked about (περιεπάτει) - how natural When others wondered, Jesus thought of the keen appetite of the young girl, and ordered her food. - J.J.G.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea.

WEB: When Jesus had crossed back over in the boat to the other side, a great multitude was gathered to him; and he was by the sea.

The Raising of Jairus' Daughter
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