The Hem Of His Garment
By Elder Timothy Don Binion
While Jesus was at the home of Matthew in Caesarea Philippi, a man named Jairus asked Jesus to heal his twelve year old daughter. On the way to Jairus’ home a miracle within a miracle occurred. Through the mob filled streets of Caesarea the striking words of “who touched me” were heard. A medical cure searched for by a hemorrhaging woman was finally found. One might expect a physician to give special attention to a miracle performed on a person that was a patient of many of his colleagues. However, Luke’s Gospel account of this miracle (Luke 8:43_48) is not exclusive, nor is it as thorough as Mark’s. This healing of the woman with the issue of blood is also recorded in Matthew 9:20_22 and Mark 25_34.
Matthew, Mark and Luke give us an account of this miracle in the middle of the raising of Jairus’ daughter. Intercalation is considered by scholars as a special Markan technique but in this case the miracle serves as a time lapse which results in the death of Jarius’ daughter (Robbins 1987, 502). The thoroughness of the synoptic writers may be seen in the amount of words used. Matthew records the miracle in 138 words, Mark in 374 words and Luke in 280 words. From the synoptic accounts there are twenty-nine Greek words exactly the same in this intercalation with seventeen exclusive to the woman who touched Jesus.
Luke records the woman’s exhaustive search for a cure to her disease. He reports her sickness as incurable. The Luken account leaves out the medical profession’s inability to help her and more importantly the fact that her condition worsened by their treatments. A. T. Robertson suggested that Luke is protecting the medical profession by simply stating that this was a chronic case that “could not be healed of any”. Robertson wrote: “Luke takes care of the physicians by the simple statement that it was a chronic case” (Robertson 1930, 122). Mark’s gospel recorded her condition worsening and Luke’s silence about this part of her experience brings up a question of professional consecration. Mark wrote: “And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,” (Mark 5:26). Charles Spurgen’s description of the methods used to treat the woman’s condition in those days may shed light on why Luke was silent. Spurgen wrote: ” She tried many, and even opposite remedies. One doctor said, ‘You had better go to the warm baths of the lake of Tiberias; such bationing will be comforting and helpful.’ She grew worse at the warm bath, and went to another physician, who said, “You were wrongly treated; you need bracing up in the cold baths of the Jordan.” Thus she went from vanity to vanity, to find both of them useless. Medicine in the days of Christ lacked knowledge and their prescriptions were ridiculous.” (Spurgen 1984, 287).
Was Luke using professional ethics and protecting the doctors of his day, as Robertson speculates? One may see the possibility of a protective position on behalf of Luke’s colleagues. However, the doctors in question may have been unaccredited physicians sought out only in chronic cases. The extreme position is just as valid. Luke’s medical credentials could have persuaded an anti-doctor outlook in the early church, had he sought to expose or discredit doctors while writing under Divine inspiration.
What facts are significant or insignificant? May one say that Luke leaves out some important aspects of this miracle while including less critical matter. What caused him to include or exclude details? One important part of the woman’s healing is that she purposed in her heart to be healed before approaching Jesus. In the briefest account, Matthew records: ” For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole (Matthew 9:21).” and Mark wrote: “For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole (Mark 5:28).” Luke is silent. However, all three writings give us a description of the illness and include the length of time that she had been suffering from this disease. More trivial seems to be the age of Jarius’ daughter, recorded in all three accounts. The age of Jarius’ daughter produces a mysterious parallel that none have reconciled. The length of time that the woman had an issue of blood is the age of Jarius’ daughter.
Mark and Luke convey a more complete account of the spiritual transition or transformation process. The spiritual operation of this physical ailment is articulated in contrast to Peter’s limited perception of the physical realm. “Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.” The meeting of spiritual and physical, the transferring of spiritual power for a physical need will be later known and experienced by the apostles. They will perform their ministries in the energy of the Spirit.
The miracle ends with her fearful confession and Jesus addressing her as “qugathr” or “Daughter” which may have an eschatological reference. This is the “only place in the Gospels where our Lord is reported to have used this loving word to any woman” (The Pulpit Commentary 1980, 210). In the writings of Eusebius he “records a tradition that she was a Gentile, a native of Caesarea Philippi” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary 1983, 227). If this woman was a Gentile this expression “Daughter” would have strong Messianic and prophetic overtones.
The fact that Luke was a physician adds tremendous credibility to every miracle that he recorded. When Luke diagnoses an incurable disease and examines that person cured by Christ, it emphasizes Christ’s deity. Advocating that Luke should have given us information because he was in the medical profession is a dangerous exegesis approach to scripture. Luke’s account of this miracle is average in relationship to the other accounts. Luke was motivated to add or subtract medical information as he was so moved by the Holy Spirit.
The over all importance of this miracle may show a subjective perception in the spiritual realm between Christ and man at the point of salvation. “This incident shows the mysterious connection between the spiritual and the physical” (The Pulpit Commentary 1980, 212). Sin is a drain upon the moral system which man cannot stop (The Pulpit Commentary 1980, 210). The virtue of Christ is needed to stop it’s flow. The experience of salvation brings a spiritual healing known only to the giver and the recipient. The purposed heart that reaches for Christ will be saved irregardless of his or her surroundings.
Jesus was a personal savior then as He is now. Christ can still heal body and soul when we reach up and touch the hem of His garment.