“Healing Old Wounds”

Posted By Beckie Sweet on Aug 6, 2023 | 0 comments

August 6, 2023 ~ 10th Sunday after Pentecost

Rev. Beckie Sweet ~ Tending the New Creation



Millions of people were saddened during the winter of 2006 to hear about the death of Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  She died on January 30th of that year in a medical clinic in Mexico.  Upon hearing the news, many asked, “What was she doing in Mexico?”  It’s simple.  Doctors in this country had told her they could do no more to save or prolong her life.  The clinic in Mexico offered hope.  That hope may have been an illusion, but who can blame her for trying?  We’ll do almost anything for hope.  Ask someone who has been in chronic pain and has discovered that even after the finest medical professionals don’t have a clue about how to stop their pain.  If there is a glimmer of hope anywhere, it’s worth a try!  Ask the family with a young one who is suffering from a cancer for which there is no cure.  They will travel thousands of miles to receive experimental treatment.  Wouldn’t you?


In our scripture text from Mark, we realize that Jesus had already attained celebrity status.  People were coming from all around to hear him teach.  Even more to the point, they were coming to him for healing that was not available anywhere else, from anyone else.  We can understand.  There were no reliable doctors.  No MRIs.  No CAT scans or PET scans.  ‘Not even X-Rays.  ‘No diagnostic tools of any kind.  Only prayer and herbs and doctors of the most primitive skill and knowledge.  So, people who were desperate for help had no reliable place to turn.

But then word got around about a man whose very presence brought healing.  Quite naturally, the people rushed to him, reached out to him.  And, of course, Jesus responded.  Many were healed.  And because of that, even more people came seeking healing.  By the thousands they came.  They would get as close as they could seeking to avail themselves of his healing power.

In the middle of the crowd was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years, what doctors would call hemorrhaging.  How sad.  How uncomfortable.  How humiliating.  Even worse, in Leviticus 15 we find the rule that bleeding women are “unclean.”  What this means is that no one was supposed to touch her as long as the bleeding continued.  If anyone came near, she was required by Jewish practice to shout out, “Unclean, unclean,” in order to warn people to stay away.  This designation would prevent her from getting married, going to the temple for worship, and participating in any community activity.  She was despised and alone.

And there was no one who could help her.  The Gospel writer tells us that “she had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.”  The doctors had taken all of her money, yet had not given her any relief.  So, here she is: impoverished, an outcast, almost without hope.  Almost!

This woman comes to Jesus.  She has heard that this is the physician she has been looking for.  There she is in the crush of the crowd.  She is in a delicate situation.  She can’t cry out about her condition to get Jesus’ attention.  Who knows what an angry or frightened crowd might do?  She can’t risk asking Jesus to touch her, for then he would be defiled.  But she thinks to herself, if I can just get close enough to touch him, just touch the hem of his garment, then maybe I will be healed.  Perhaps no one will notice.

She did it!  She got close enough to touch his cloak.  Immediately she knew her bleeding had stopped and she was freed from her suffering.  And Jesus knew that!  He turned amid the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”  What an outrageous question.  It’s like asking in the middle of a rain shower, which one of you clouds dripped on me?

The woman in the crowd realizes that she must come forward to confess, to take responsibility.  Now, everyone knew.  Why couldn’t Jesus just heal her in private?  Because the community had shunned her due to her condition, the community needed to know that she was now healed of that condition.  Confession is not only good for the soul, it helps us to be restored to our rightful place in community.  That is what sets this woman free.

Jesus speaks to her.  “Daughter,” (this is the only time recorded in the Scriptures that he ever used the term “daughter”), Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Go in peace and be healed of your disease.”


Be healed.  Be freed.  Be freed physically, socially, spiritually.  Be freed!  What a beautiful and important story.  There may be someone in this room or worshiping with us online, who is feeling hopeless about some situation in life.  Perhaps it is a secret, or has only been shared with a trusted few.  But Jesus knows.  Perhaps it has to do with health, or a relationship that is fractured.  Jesus knows.  There may be a friend or an acquaintance for whom we carry deep concern.  Perhaps we are maintaining a secret or a confidence for one who has sinned, is suffering, or is broken.  Jesus knows.  When the weight is heavy, we may just want to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment seeking healing, freedom.  This scripture, our faith in Jesus, offers hope.  Jesus knows, and has the power to heal, mend, reconcile.  Jesus knows.


Lloyd Ogilvie, former Presbyterian pastor, popular speaker and author was preparing to speak at a large convention.  The woman who introduced him began by saying, “We have a very unusual privilege tonight.  In our midst is without a doubt the world’s finest communicator.  He is extremely sensitive, alert, compassionate and wise.  He can sense a person’s true needs immediately and speak just the right word to heal a hurt.”

Dr. Ogilvie later confessed that he felt both flattered and frightened by this introduction.  How could he live up to all that?  He didn’t have to.  For as the woman came to the end, she said, “We are in for a tremendous experience tonight because the supreme lover of people is in our midst.  Who is He?  He is Jesus Christ.  And now here is a man named Lloyd Ogilvie who will tell us about our Savior.”


Jesus is the supreme lover of people.  Jesus knows your situation.  Jesus is aware of wounds that are fresh, those that have caused proverbial bleeding for many years, those that just don’t seem to heal, and those that have left scars.  Sometimes there are wounds that have remained with us over the years and we continue to “bleed” even though we think by ignoring them they will go away.  Sometimes the wounds come from the people who are supposed to protect us.  Jesus knows.  And as Jesus reminds the woman in the scripture story that her faith has healed her, we, too, are reminded that Jesus knows all about our wounds.   And Jesus reminds us of the hope that faith in him even heals old wounds.  Go in peace and be freed from your disease, suffering, brokenness, solitude, guilt, anxiety,…anything that causes pain.  Your faith in Jesus will set you free!

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *