Woman with a Flow of Blood: Seeking Wholeness
By Janet Abai
Read Mark 5:25–34
We see a woman who is enslaved by affliction but decides to look beyond that barrier to healing. Her slave master, bleeding, is brutal to her. This owner has led her to into “enduring much at the hands of many physicians” (Mark 5:26). This slave master has brought pain and penury as her co-owners. These deadly companions have owned and ruled her for twelve years. While twelve years may not seem like a long time, consider this: 144 months of blood; 4,383 days of smelly blood; 105,190 hours of blood, blood, smelly blood, draining life from her body.
May I suggest that, in addition to time, is theft: this slave master takes from the woman everything but gives her nothing but brokenness, pain, and penury. But regardless of this time wasted, this theft, the woman refuses to be subject to bleeding, to hiding, to penury, to shame. For a decade and two years, restrictive boundaries and obstacles seem to be winning over her healing. Even though she has spent all that she had, she only grows worse. Life is dripping out of her body until she finally encounters life himself.
Before this encounter, no one could heal her. But after she meets Jesus, she knows this one can. She believes her breath is a steady promise—a promise of hope for a better tomorrow. She hears about Jesus. She comes into the crowd, the obstacles, the pain, the affliction, the poverty, the shame, the uncertainties, the diagnosis, the prognosis, the loneliness, the confusion, the heartbreak, the fears, the discouragement, and the smell. She comes up behind the Master-physician and pushes through the barrier of space, distractions, culture, physicians’ verdicts, the crowd. Instantly, she receives a healing beyond boundaries. . . .
This sermon was originally published as “Freed from bleeding: A homily on Mark 5:25–34.” Read more at the latest issue of Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology on the theme of Health, Healing, and Hope, 77–79. You can also watch Janet speak about her experience at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary.