6

Many (most) miracles of Jesus seem to have in common these factors:

  1. They are occasioned by sympathy and compassion for people in difficulty;
  2. They are deliberately operated by Jesus to remedy the situation of difficulty, and, at the same time as an occasion to affirm that the coming of the Kingdom of God is made manifest in his miracles.

As regards no.1, some miracles seem an exhibition of supernatural power not motivated by compassion: just think of Jesus Walking on Water (Matt 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:16-21) and his Stilling of a Storm (Matt 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25).

As for no. 2, all of Jesus' miracles can be read as an affirmation of the deliberate manifestation in Jesus of the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.

There is a miracle, though, that doesn't seem to conform to no.2. That is the story of Jesus healing the Woman with an Issue of Blood, an episode that, in all three Synoptic Gospels, is almost casually interwoven with the Raising of Jairus' Daughter (Matt 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56).

Quoting from Mark's Gospel:

25 Now a woman was there who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years. 26 She had endured a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet instead of getting better, she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she kept saying, “If only I touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 At once the bleeding stopped, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Jesus knew at once that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 His disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing against you and you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 But he looked around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, with fear and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:25-34)

I noticed that:

  • The Evangelist underlines the unintentionality of the miracle on the part of Jesus: “Jesus knew at once that power had gone out from him.”
  • Jesus was evidently surprise: “Who touched my clothes?”
  • The reply of the disciples makes Jesus' question appear almost silly: “You see the crowd pressing against you and you say, ‘Who touched me?’”
  • It is only from the "confession" of the woman that Jesus seems to learn that, apart from his will, she has "tapped" at his healing power.

Does this passage in Mark indicate that Jesus is "charged" with power (in particular healing power), that flows spontaneously from him towards those who have faith in him?

  • 1
    Welcome to SEBH! "Through the woodlands, through the valleys comes a horseman wild and free, Tilting at the windmills passing, who that the brave young horseman be?"* Why it's Miguel de Servet! Enjoy your time with us. Don Don. *Gordon Lightfoot, "Don Quixote" – rhetorician Oct 24 '14 at 17:08
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    Another "welcome!" Those are some interesting reflections, but it's difficult for me to see what the real question is. Can you sharpen what it is that requires an answer? (This is a "Q&A" site!) | I would add a #3 to your common features: typically (not always) Jesus' healing miracles are initiated by the sufferer (they seek Jesus' help). It might be worth differentiating the sorts of "works of power" that the gospels describe Jesus performing, because they do have different characteristics, as your examples imply. – Dɑvïd Oct 24 '14 at 18:59
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    Welcome to BH.SE! Please take our site tour. and check out what makes us different from other sites that study the Bible. As David pointed out, it is difficult to discern in here what the question is. This seems more like a discussion forum post asking for feedback/thoughts/comments rather than a clear question asking for an answer. We are a Q&A site, not a forum. Can you focus this more and make it clear what you are asking and which specific text you are asking about? – Dan Oct 24 '14 at 19:37
  • @Miguel de Servet I have to agree with daen-your 'question' is more of a discussion than a query. My suspicion is that it will require a major 're-write' to simply ask a question, rather than injecting what you perceive the solution to be. Remember-you can answer your own question, and you should keep the question a question, and save the answer for an answer. – Tau Oct 26 '14 at 14:04
  • The Q&A portion of this site prefers "questions that can be answered not just discussed." You appear to have a theory/teaching that you would like to test or share. This is very appropriate subject matter for chat in the library (chat room); or, you might consider creating a chat room to discuss just this topic/theory/perspective. – user2027 Oct 29 '14 at 7:19
4

The healing power didn't flow out until she touched his garment. More specifically, Matthew 9:20 says that she touched the “hem” of his garment. The Greek word for hem in this case is kraspedon1 which also means “tassle.” Before I proceed any further, a little backtracking into the book of Malachi is helpful. Malachi 4:2 says “the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings” (emphasis mine).

The word “wings” is a reference to a clothing item and not literal wings. The “wings” Jesus was wearing were on his prayer shawl and are known as tzitzit (tassel) on the corners. She wouldn’t have been reaching for just any portion of the garment but for the tzitzit, the most holy part of his garment 2. This is an item with knots that represent the 613 commandments. In other words, she believed not just on the words of God but the Word himself, Jesus. And for her faith healing went from his wings (tzitzit) and she was healed. She was healed and now Malachi 4:2 is documented as being fulfilled by Jesus.


1James Strong, Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: "2899".

2 David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, (Clarksville, Maryland: Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., 1992), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 37.

2

Your first two points are pretty well grounded in a middle-of-the-road, Evangelical and conservative interpretation of Scripture vis a vis Jesus' miracles. There are, perhaps, other points which could be made, but your two are certainly a good start.

Where your hermeneutic might be lacking, however, is its omission of the pedagogical aspect of Jesus' miracles. Very often, his miracles became a platform for a particular teaching aimed at his disciples, especially "The Twelve" and the inner circle of Peter, James, and John. The same could be said of Jesus' audiences generally; for example, his audience at the raising of Lazarus from the dead (see John 11:4, 15, 25-26, 40, 42, 45, [and 46(!)]) .

Complicating things a bit is the question of when and how the nexus of the divine and the human was manifested in Jesus' life and ministry--where the human part ended and the divine part picked up, and vice versa. The self-emptying of Jesus (Philippians 2:7) gives us some guidance in this regard, but exactly what triggered those spectacular and miraculous flashes of divinity and why they were triggered are questions to which we simply do not have easy answers.

In the healing of the woman with the issue of blood, there are a number of exegetical/hermeneutical issues to consider. First, was Jesus' question (viz., "Who touched me?") similar to God's question in Genesis 3:9, where God asks, "Where are you [Adam]?"? God knew, of course, where Adam was, but his question became a pedagogical moment for Adam (and for the readers of the Scripture in which the question was preserved forever). God knew where Adam was (well, duh!), but part of his reason for the question was to get Adam to do some hard thinking about what he had just done by disobeying God.

Similarly Jesus, in part, wanted his disciples to do some hard thinking about matters of faith and the role it plays in miracles of healing. I suggest He knew who touched him. Moreover, what triggered the release of his power to the woman who touched him was certainly compassion for her (your #1), but it also presented him with an opportunity to teach his disciples (and perhaps other witnesses to the miracle) an important lesson about faith.

Did Jesus "learn" things (to use your word from the third paragraph from the end of your question)? Of course he did.

"Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8 NAS).

Did he learn things "apart from his will," as you suggest in your question? I believe not. Jesus' form of learning was both similar to and different from the way we humans learn. Unlike us, Jesus learned through experience, and not through the line-upon-line, precept-upon-precept sort of learning we humans engage in (though we too can learn from experience, as when "we learn a lesson"--one hopes--by getting caught in a lie!).

When Jesus realized power had gone out from him, he was in touch with the power of God in a way we as humans--even Spirit-empowered humans--could never experience. When he "realized" the woman was healed, he transformed her healing into an opportunity to teach both the healed woman and his followers.

  • The question was clear enough for rhetorician to provide an answer. Anyway, the text is Mark 5:25-34. The essential question is: is it only my impression, or does Mark's text (read without apologetic intention) make it appear as though Jesus was unaware that the woman was approaching him, until she touched him, and "drew" healing power from him? – Miguel de Servet Oct 25 '14 at 14:50
  • @MigueldeServet: Yeah, your Q was clear enough to me. The more I think about it, however, the less clear my answer becomes! Not for a minute do I think Jesus ceased being God. He was and always will be fully God. That he happened to be and always will be fully human makes incidents like the healing of the woman with the issue of blood more than a little shrouded in mystery. Again, where did the divine "leave off" and the "human begin" (& vice versa)? Beats me. Since Jesus was continuously in touch with his Father, could the Father have nudged Jesus when the woman touched his garment? Possibly. – rhetorician Oct 25 '14 at 15:16
  • That's something to think about. Did the Father "tell" Jesus about Nathaniel's exemplary character, or did Jesus just know about his guilelessness because as God he knows all things (see John 1:47)? Honestly, I don't have a definitive answer for you. Don – rhetorician Oct 25 '14 at 15:19
  • I accept your honest "bottom line". MdS – Miguel de Servet Oct 25 '14 at 17:14
  • @rhetorician You have an excellent answer here, Don. It is difficult for a new user, used to forum-type sites, to get the 'hang' of how we work here. Nevertheless, you seem to have 'pared' away the commentary and got to the nucleus of the answer. – Tau Oct 26 '14 at 14:12

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