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Lesson 4: Two Women Needing Hope

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“He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’” (Mark 5:34)

Pray: Lord Jesus, please teach me through this lesson.

A Little Bit of History

Hopefully in our study so far, you have seen how absolutely different the Lord Jesus Christ was from His culture in the way He regarded women! Thus, as Jesus’ ministry unfolded, the average citizen of Israel began to witness an extraordinary approach to women, one that cut against the grain of commonly held practices. Jesus treated women as no man had ever treated them before. His warmth, personal attention, tenderness, sound teaching, and compassion toward women were revolutionary.             

Jesus taught God’s Word to large crowds in the area around Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. As He taught, He also healed many people who were in desperate need of hope in their lives. The news about His teaching and the miracles spread, drawing large crowds wherever Jesus went. One day in the midst of one of these large crowds, Jesus encountered a woman and a girl who were also in desperate need of hope.

1. Read Mark 5:21-34.

Focus on the Sick Woman

Let’s call the woman ‘Dottie.’

2. Looking at verses 22-24, where was Jesus heading and why?

3. From verses 25-26, describe ‘Dottie’ and her circumstances.

Her condition is probably uterine hemorrhaging like a number of women experience with endometriosis or fibroid tumors. Some of the medical treatments available for her condition included carrying ashes of ostrich eggs on your body and taking ground-up willow bark—a bitter-tasting remedy containing salicin, an aspirin-like drug, that would have only aggravated her bleeding.

According to the Mosaic Law, anyone with this condition was considered unclean until healed. She was excluded from the temple area (and synagogue seating), excluded from mingling with others, and considered separated from God. Anyone who touched her or anything she touched would be unclean. This likely pale, emaciated woman was without any hope.

4. Think about the kind of life ‘Dottie’ had led for 12 years. Considering what you as a woman enjoy in life, what did she miss out on?

5. What brought ‘Dottie’ to Jesus for healing?

The prevailing opinions of her day were that bad things didn’t happen to good people. The thought was that everyone got what they justly deserved. Thus, to be stricken with a chronic, incurable disease such as this was equated with sinful behavior, presumably being immoral. People shunned her. She was not invited to parties, weddings, or to anyone’s house for dinner. She couldn’t even sit in the women’s section of the synagogue. If married, her husband would be unclean for 7 days after every sexual encounter with her; perhaps she had been divorced and shut off from her family. She is an outcast—lonely, isolated, and probably in a state of clinical depression.

No one brought her to Jesus. But, she heard about Him and acted on that news. It’s our job to share with others about how Jesus can change lives. No one knows how many times it takes for someone to pay attention and respond. All we can do is tell.

6. Put yourself in her shoes. As an ordinary woman, what emotions would ‘Dottie’ have experienced…

  • As she reached out to touch Jesus’ cloak (verses 27-28)?
  • After she felt healing (verse 29)?

7. Read Mark 5:30-34.

  • After Jesus willingly extended His healing power to ‘Dottie,’ what did He do next (verses 30-32)?
  • What did ‘Dottie’ do then (verse 33)? See also Luke 8:47.
  • Then, what did Jesus say to her (verse 34)?
  • When Jesus insisted that she publicly reveal herself, how would that be an advantage to her?

‘Dottie’ acts on her own faith—mixed with some superstition about His garments (“If I just touch His clothes”). Later it was a common practice for the crowds to touch the hem of His garments and be healed. Here Jesus chooses to single out this woman’s case for clarification. There is no magic in the garments of Jesus. Even if there is superstition in the woman’s mind, Jesus honors her faith, “I will be healed” (verse 28).

Jesus knew what happened because He was always God. He laid aside His glory and did not use His attributes for Himself while on earth. But He always knew what those around Him were thinking before they spoke.

It is a dramatic moment for Jesus and for the fearful woman. When she revealed herself and told what she did and why, Jesus affectionately called her “daughter,” signifying a relationship with Him (and possibly a clue to her age), and publicly declared her healed. She was now freed from her suffering.

Jesus sent the healed woman off in peace to a changed life of wholeness and hope. She could enter society because she was healed AND she received spiritual life as well. Our God always does more than we ask or think!

Focus on the Girl (and Her Family)

8. Reread Mark 5:21-23 and Luke 8:41-42.

The local synagogue was the place of worship and instruction in the community. Worshipers gathered once a week to pray and read the Scriptures. Services included prescribed readings, prayer, and a sermon. Respected teachers who were visiting for the Sabbath were usually invited to speak.

The ruler of the synagogue was a layman whose responsibilities included such things as looking after the building (maintenance, repairs, and cleaning) as well as supervising the worship (conducting services, selecting participants and maintaining order). He sat in the reserved seats for elders and rulers and was a very important man in the community.

Since Jesus called the girl ‘Talitha,’ that’s what we will call her, too.

9. What do you learn about ‘Talitha’?

10. What did Jairus want Jesus to do?

The synagogue ruler was a prominent and usually wealthy man. But he had a problem that neither his prominence nor his wealth could solve. His precious daughter was dying. Jairus is very specific in what He wants Jesus to do. “Come and touch her.” The Jews believed that the touch transmitted vitality. Jairus had faith in Jesus’ touch, and he expressed that faith. Jesus acts upon the faith we have which is wonderful and encouraging to us. But, would Jesus take time out to go to Jairus’ house for a little girl? The answer is, “Yes.” To Him, this little girl is just as important as anyone else. He starts off with the crowd following Him.

11. Read Mark 5:35-43. During the interruption when Jesus healed ‘Dottie,’ what has now occurred at Jairus’ house (verse 35)?

12. What does Jesus tell Jairus in verse 36? See also Luke 8:50.

Jesus heads to the house and sees a commotion—mourners at work, weeping and wailing. Paid mourners developed as a profession in Old Testament times and continued into the time of Jesus. As a career that passed from mother to daughter, professional mourners were almost always women. Their mourning included loud wailing, sad songs, and eulogies, sometimes accompanied by flutes.

13. What does Jesus say to the wailing crowd outside Jairus’ house (verse 39)?

14. What was the wailers’ response to Jesus?

15. Who went into the room with Jesus (verses 37 & 40)?

16. Once inside, what did Jesus do then (verses 41-43)? (Notice His tenderness toward the girl through His words and gestures.)

17. How is Jairus’ initial faith challenged and stretched through this whole incident?

18. Reread Luke 8:50. What was Jesus’ plan all along?

After hearing that his daughter was dead, Jesus told Jairus to stop being afraid and to keep on believing for she would be healed. Since being afraid and believing are mutually exclusive, you can’t do both at the same time. The Psalmist writes, “I will trust and not be afraid.” (Psalm 56:3) It’s as though Jesus was saying to Jairus, “I’m still on it.”

This is important for us as well. When fear overwhelms us, we can with an act of our will stop being afraid and choose to believe God that He is in control and will not abandon us. Fear is an emotion; faith is an act of the will. From Jairus' viewpoint, he had to wait an agonizingly long time for Jesus to respond to his request through delays, diversions, and disappointing news. Jesus had not forgotten Jairus. He could have healed the girl from a distance, but He didn’t. He stretched Jairus’ faith through the waiting.

Faith is learning to say to Jesus, “Lord, I can’t do this on my own. But, You can do this in and through me. I will trust You.” Then, see what He does.

Satisfied by His Love

Jesus stopped His public ministry to heal two women—one publicly; the other privately. One was socially dead; the other was physically dead. One touched Him and was healed without a word; the other He touched and spoke to when she was healed. One was an outcast; the other was loved within her family circle. Both received the hope of new life.

Two women were beyond human help and without hope. ‘Dottie’ was held in bondage to her disease and could not have a proper relationship with her God or her community. Jesus lovingly took notice of both of them and gave them hope through healing. Jesus took time away from the crowd to minister to each one personally. He used endearing terms (“daughter” and “little girl”) to address them, not just “woman” and “child.” He satisfied their immediate needs and gave them abundant life and hope for the future.

Jesus also gave ‘Dottie’ an opportunity to tell her story publicly. Her pain caused her to seek help from Jesus by faith. Everyone hears her tell why she touched Him and how she had been instantly healed.

19. Describe any of your own painful, hopeless circumstances that have driven you to Jesus. What did you learn about His faithfulness through that experience? How did others minister to you in love, showing Jesus to you and giving you hope?

Jesus Satisfies Your Heart with Hope

In the crowd pressing around Jesus is a woman with a desperate need. Her life is a living death, and her condition is hopeless. Having suffered for 12 years with no break, she is likely pale, emaciated, and weakened. She used all her financial resources to seek out one doctor after another, yet she was worse. This desperate woman hears about Jesus. Hope flickers in her heart.

Sadly, no friend has brought her to Jesus. She acts on her own faith—mixed with some superstition about His garments. She reaches out and touches His cloak. Immediately, her bleeding stops. She feels it. She knows she is completely healed. It is a vivid moment of joy for her!

As Jesus took time out from His busy schedule to minister to two women personally, He also takes a personal interest in each one of us. Yet, as He meets our individual needs, Jesus has the right to choose what He brings into our lives. He wants us to stop being afraid and to keep on believing, to exercise the faith that we have. All of this offers hope to anyone going through what seems to be insurmountable odds.

What is hope?

The kind of hope that the world offers is generally the wishful thinking kind where someone is not sure they will get what they want or need but “hopes” they will.

Biblical hope is the confident expectation that God will fulfill His promises to you because it is based on the character and faithfulness of God.

You need hope when you are facing something tough, when you are sad, or when you can’t see the end of a painful time. Losing hope leads to discouragement and despair. Hope is essential to human life. In Titus 2, Jesus is called “our blessed hope,” promising that Jesus is coming back to earth to make right whatever is wrong. But, in the meantime, Jesus offers us hope now. In the midst of troubles, He satisfies our hearts with hope through healing and through comfort.

Hope through healing

Let’s talk first about hope through healing. The psalmist said this,

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases.” (Psalm 103:2-3)

As we learned in the last lesson, once you trust in Jesus, all your sins—past, present, and future—are completely forgiven. You don’t have to wait on that. But what about the “heals all your diseases” part? We know through experience that God doesn’t automatically heal every Christian from every disease. You or someone you love dearly may be struggling with a chronic illness or a debilitating injury. And when you read through the gospels, seeing Jesus heal so many people instantly, it’s easy to question why that doesn’t seem to be true today.

So, let’s look at two things: why Jesus performed so many miracles and how He heals today.

1. Why did Jesus perform so many miracles?

Jesus’ miracles demonstrated that He is God and that His message, therefore, has authority (Acts 2:22). Miracles authenticate the message and the messenger. Miracles also demonstrate God’s compassion for His people. Through His miracles, Jesus showed that…

  • He has power beyond that of an ordinary man. The laws of the natural world, which He created, were not boundaries for Him.
  • He is the fulfillment of prophecy concerning the Messiah. The Messiah would be recognized by the works He would do—healing the blind, freeing prisoners, and releasing the oppressed. Jesus basically said to people "I am that one."
  • He is God on earth. In John 6:25, Jesus calls miracles "signs," pointing to the fact that He was the Messiah—God on Earth. The crowds just wanted the benefits—food, protection, health. Jesus wanted people to believe that He was their God in human form.

2. How does God still heal today?

God still performs miracles today though we may not see them as often as we’d like. Miracles still authenticate the message and the messenger. For someone claiming to do miraculous things, always make sure their message exalts Jesus as the only way to God, that the Bible is their only authority, and that forgiveness of sins is found only through Jesus Christ. Then, you can be confident that you are seeing the genuine works of God. Remember that the greatest miracle is what God does to change a human heart from the inside out and redeem a lost life. He is doing that in abundance.

In Psalm 103, the phrase “heals all your diseases” could also refer to God enabling the human body to heal itself. God created the human body with a marvelous immune system. Yet, you’ve no doubt seen where the same treatment for a disease will work well for one person but not for another. We don’t understand why. But, we must trust God’s goodness in what He chooses to do.

Jesus has the right to choose what He brings into our lives. He tells us to stop being afraid and to keep on believing, to exercise the faith that we have, and to hold onto hope.

Hope through comfort when healing is delayed

When God withholds or delays healing, He promises comfort. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

The promise is that Jesus comforts us in ALL our troubles. That includes those that just seem to happen to us like chronic illness or pain as well as those we cause because of wrong choices we make. Paul had a chronic physical illness. He writes about it in 2 Corinthians,

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

God loved Paul dearly; he was doing the work God gave him to do. But, God’s answer was still, “No.” So, Paul said, “I will boast in my weakness so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” That frees us and moves us in the direction that will give us hope.

Through any life challenge, including physical debilitation, God wants us to learn to not depend on ourselves but to depend on God and His great power. He wants us to put our hope in Him and count on His work to deliver us when we are in the midst of troubles. Sometimes we want to just quit. It’s God’s power in us that makes us strong during those times. In His strength, we receive hope through comfort.

Even the most loving parents must let their children hurt (cutting teeth, riding a bike) sometimes in order for them to live as adults. God loves you more than the best parents can and wants you to learn how to live as His child, depending on Him for the comfort and strength that flows from His grace to you.

Human parents raise their children to be less dependent on them and more independent. But, God raises His children to be less independent and more dependent on Him. Whatever He brings into our lives that makes us more dependent upon Him is good for us.

You may feel that God isn’t noticing your pain. He knows. He chooses what will make you more like the Lord Jesus Christ. And suffering is an important instrument in His hands much as you may hate it.

In your pain, say to Him, “I am your daughter, Lord. Help me to deal with this situation. Please give me your hope and comfort.” Remember that God is good all the time. You can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do in your life. Trouble is part of human life. Christians who are loved by God will suffer some troubles in this world, but Jesus is Your comforter when you hurt.

Our God created us with a spiritual thirst for a relationship with Him. Another human cannot satisfy that thirst. Only God can satisfy the thirsty heart. Jesus Christ satisfies our thirst for hope and comfort when we need it. As the Bible promises,

“for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” (Psalm 107:9)

A satisfied heart faces any dire situation with hope. Let Jesus satisfy your heart with the goodness of His love.

20. What in your life right now is very tough, sad, or otherwise painful? Believe that God loves you even though He allows you to go through that pain. Ask Jesus to heal your diseases. And, while waiting, ask Him to fill your heart with comfort and hope as you endure pain and suffering.

21. Often God uses our Christian brothers and sisters to share Jesus’ comfort with us. With whom have you shared your pain? Have you allowed them to pray for you? To assist you? To give you comfort?

Response in prayer and praise:

Ask Jesus to satisfy your heart through knowing Him. Trust Him to work in your life to bring you healing, hope, and freedom. Thank Him for His grace toward you and His unending love for you.

Discover more about Jesus:

Christianity is Christ so spend a few minutes each day reading the verses and reflecting on Jesus—His life, His relationships, and His teaching. Get to know Him well—this One who loves you dearly.

  • Read Luke 13. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Luke 14. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Luke 15. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Luke 16. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Luke 17. Reflect on what you read.

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