Mark 5:30-34

THE COST OF HEALING

Mk. 5:30-34

Jesus was well aware in himself that the power which issued from him had gone out of him; and immediately, in the middle of the crowd, he turned and said: “Who touched my clothes?” The disciples said to him: “Look at the crowd that are crushing you on every side–what’s the point of saying, `Who touched me?'” He kept looking all round to see who had done this. The woman was terrified and trembling. She knew well what had happened to her. She came and threw herself down before him, and told him the whole truth. “Daughter!” he said to her, “Your faith has cured you! Go, and be in good health, free from the trouble that was your scourge.”

This passage tells us something about three people.

(i) It tells us something about Jesus. It tells us the cost of healing. Every time Jesus healed anyone it took something out of him. Here is a universal rule of life. We will never produce anything great unless we are prepared to put something of ourselves, of our very life, of our very soul into it. No pianist will ever give a really great performance if he glides through a piece of music with faultless technique and nothing more. The performance will not be great unless at the end of it there is the exhaustion which comes of the outpouring of self. No actor will ever give a great performance who repeats his words with every inflection right and every gesture correct like a perfectly designed automaton. His tears must be real tears; his feelings must be real feelings; something of himself must go into the acting. No preacher who ever preached a real sermon descended from his pulpit without a feeling of being drained of something.

If we are ever to help men, we must be ready to spend ourselves. It all comes from our attitude to men. Once Matthew Arnold, the great literary critic, said of the middle classes: “Look at these people; the clothes they wear; the books they read; the texture of mind that composes their thoughts; would any amount of money compensate for being like one of these?” Now the sense of that saying may or may not be true; but the point is that it was contempt that gave it birth. He looked on men with a kind of shuddering loathing; and no one who looks on men like that can ever help them.

Think on the other hand of Moses, after the people had made the golden calf when he was on the mountain top. Remember how he besought God to blot him out of the book of remembrance if only the people might be forgiven. (Exo.32:30-32.) Think of how Myers makes Paul speak when he looks upon the lost and pagan world:

“Then, with a thrill, the intolerable craving, Shivers throughout me like a trumpet call– O to save these, to perish for their saving– Die for their life, be offered for them all.”

The greatness of Jesus was that he was prepared to pay the price of helping others, and that price was the outgoing of his very life. We follow in his steps only when we are prepared to spend, not our substance, but our souls and strength for others.

(ii) It tells us something about the disciples. It shows us very vividly the limitations of what is called common sense. The disciples took the common-sense point of view. How could Jesus avoid being touched and jostled in a crowd like that? That was the sensible way to look at things. There emerges the strange and poignant fact that they had never realized that it cost Jesus anything at all to heal others.

One of the tragedies of life is the strange insensitiveness of the human mind. We so often utterly fail to realize what others are going through. Because we may have no experience of something, we never think what that something is costing someone else. Because something may be easy for us we never realize what a costly effort it may be for someone else. That is why we so often hurt worst of all those we love. A man may pray for common sense, but sometimes he would do well to pray for that sensitive, imaginative insight which can see into the hearts of others.

(iii) It tells us something about the woman. It tells us of the relief of confession. It was all so difficult; it was all so humiliating. But once she had told the whole truth to Jesus, the terror and the trembling were gone and a wave of relief flooded her heart. And when she had made her pitiful confession she found him very kind.

“Let not conscience make you linger, Nor of fitness fondly dream; All the fitness he requireth Is to feel your need of him.”

It is never hard to confess to one who understands like Jesus.

Back to: THE GOSPEL OF MARK

Back to: Barclay’s Commentary

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