There are many incidents in the Gospels which seem of no immediate importance to us, but which have far richer meaning when viewed from a first century Jewish perspective. For example, consider Mark 5:22-43. In this story, Jesus is summoned to heal Jairus' daughter, but before he gets there, another woman intercepts him. He heals her and then, upon arriving at the home of Jairus, finds the daughter already dead. Jesus brings her back to life. How are these two miracles connected? It turns out that there's a common thread running through them both - an underlying theme which points strongly to the divinity of Jesus.
Mark 5:22-24 And one of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up, and upon seeing Him, fell at His feet, and entreated Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, that she may get well and live.” And He went off with him; and a great multitude was following Him and pressing in on Him.
Notice that a great crowd of people were pressing around Jesus. At this time in His ministry, His reputation was spreading and the preceeding incident with the Gadarene swine had probably made Him somewhat notorious!
Mark 5:25-27 And a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse, after hearing about Jesus, came up in the crowd behind Him, and touched His cloak.
It's hard to imagine the desperate state of this woman who, for twelve years, had suffered a hemorrhage of blood, and as a consequence had been poked and prodded by many "quacks" who had done nothing but take all her money. But there's more: according to the Old Testament, a woman was ritually unclean for seven days following her monthly period. However, if she had a continual and irregular flow of blood, as was the case here, the woman never stopped being unclean. (See e.g. Leviticus 15:25). This had dire consequences for her above and beyond the obvious social and physical inconvenience. It meant that she was shunned by society, people would not want to come into contact with her, and she would have absolutely no chance of finding a husband. In effect, she may as well have been a leper. Now you can appreciate why the poor woman was so desperate - she had been an outcast for the last twelve years!
Mark simply records that the woman touched Yeshua's "cloak" which doesn't really tell us very much. However, Luke 8:44 states that she touched the border of his garment while Matthew 9:20 refers to the hem or fringe. The Greek word used here is kraspedon (2899 in Strong's Greek Concordance - translated as fringe or tassel). This is actually very significant - significant enough to be recorded by at least two of the Gospel writers.
As Gentiles, we tend to think of Jesus as walking around in a plain white bed-sheet! At least, that's how He is portrayed in many films! The truth is that He was almost certainly a Torah-observant orthodox Jew. Like the orthodox Jews of modern times, He wore "tzitzit" or special tassels on his prayer shawl. You can read more about tzitzit here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzitzit. These tzitzit are ordained by the Lord in Numbers 15:38-39 and in Deut 22:12. Jesus was referring to the tzitzit when he accused the scribes and Pharisees of wearing extra-long ones, just to be ostentatious - just for show. (Matt 23:5).
Mark 5:28-29 For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I shall get well.” And immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
According to the thinking of the time, the tzitzit were the holiest, most sacred part of the garment. The woman reasoned that if she could just touch the Lord's tzitzit, she would be healed.... and she was right! Compare this with another passage in Matthew 14:36 where many people sought to touch Yeshua's tzitzit. Again, as many as did were healed.
Mark 5:30-32 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” And His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude pressing in on You, and You say, Who touched Me?” And He looked around to see the woman who had done this.
This is quite a comic moment. Jesus was pressed on every side by people, jostled to and fro by the crowds, and yet this woman, as soon as she touches Him, is healed. Why? Because hers was the touch of faith. Sensing that power went out from Him, Yeshua wheeled round and asked who touched His clothing? At this point, the disciples undoubtedly thought Jesus had been out in the sun too long! What do you mean Lord -- who touched you? Folks have been bumping and jostling you for the last couple of miles! Strange question!! The disciples had no idea of what was going on here.
Mark 5:33-34 But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”
Why was the woman in fear and trembling? Why wasn't she rejoicing that she'd just been healed? She knew she had just done something very wrong, and here we come to the heart of the matter, Jesus was acknowledged as a rabbi, a holy man. But this woman was ritually unclean because of her flow of blood. In this society, it would have been seen as a dreadful thing for her to reach out and touch Him in any way. If Jesus had been an ordinary rabbi, coming into contact with an unclean person would have rendered Him unclean, and He would have had to go through a purification ritual before He was once more clean. In other words, when something that is clean comes into contact with something that's unclean, it is the clean thing that gets dirty!
When you come home from a stroll in the countryside, try walking through the kitchen in your muddy boots. For maximum effect, wait until your partner has just cleaned the kitchen floor. [No, really, we're just kidding!] What happened? Did the mud on your boots get transferred to that nice clean floor, or did the cleanness of the floor get transferred to your boots? In everyday life, we know that clean things always get messed up when they come into contact with unclean things. You will find this theme running all through the book of Leviticus. There is also a very clear illustration of the principle in Haggai 2:10-13. (Thanks to Peter A. for this suggestion).
This is what demonstrated the divinity of Jesus. Instead of Jesus becoming unclean, the woman was immediately made clean because she touched Jesus. This was a powerful demonstration of His divine nature, to those who understood. In the spiritual realm, only God can touch what is unclean and make it clean. Compare this passage with Isaiah 6:6-7. The Jews of Jesus day certainly understood this too. E.g. Luke 7:49.
Mark 5:35-43 While He was still speaking, they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?” But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.” And He allowed no one to follow with Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James. And they came to the house of the synagogue official; and He beheld a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. And entering in, He said to them, “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him. But putting them all out, He took along the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and entered the room where the child was. And taking the child by the hand, He said to her, “Talitha kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”). And immediately the girl rose and began to walk; for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this; and He said that something should be given her to eat.
The healing of the woman with the hemorrhage is followed immediately by the raising of Jairus' daughter. The gospel clearly records that Yeshua took the little girl by the hand. Again, this is significant. The Levitical laws prohibited a Torah-observant Jew from touching a dead body. (E.g. Numbers 19:11ff). As before, if Jesus had been an ordinary rabbi, He would have become ritually defiled because He touched the body of this young girl. Instead, however, not only was He not defiled, but the girl was gloriously raised from the dead! Once more, this speaks powerfully of the divinity of the Lord.
It's interesting that the earlier woman had suffered with a hemorrhage for 12 years, and that the little girl mentioned later was also 12 years old. Why the emphasis on twelve? One wouldn't want to push the underlying typology too far, but we believe that these two miracles are intended not only to demonstrate that Yeshua was God, but also that He was/is the God of Israel. In both the Old and New Testament, when you see the number 12 being mentioned, it is very often a pointer to Israel. For example, Gen. 37:9-10, Rev 12:1, etc.
Finally, why did the Lord speak to the little girl in Aramaic, and why is this considered worth mentioning? The world in which Yeshua lived was highly multi-cultural. The entire Roman world communicated together in Greek which was the lingua franca of the day. However, the Jews spoke Hebrew (at least in the context of religious ceremonies, and possibly more widely). They also spoke Aramaic, and it is our belief that Aramaic was the language which Jews of that day would have learned as infants.
It's highly debatable (and a very complex issue) what language Jesus normally used when with His disciples, but we suspect that it wasn't Aramaic. If this theory is true, it would explain why Jesus switched into Aramaic when addressing a small child: she might not know much Hebrew, she would know little Greek, but she would understand Aramic. It's a lovely example of the care and sensitivity of the Lord. Incidentally, this would also explain why Jesus cried out in Aramaic when on the cross (Matt 27:46, Mark 15:34). In times of great stress, it's known that people often revert to the language they learned on their mothers knee. In all these ways, the humanity of the Lord shines through alongside His deity.