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Touch the Hem of His Garment: How to Get Even Closer to Him

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Most of you may be familiar with the bleeding woman touching the hem of His garment, yet its meaning and significance are often misunderstood. In the Bible, this verse references miraculous healing from Jesus Christ, but it has also become a symbol of faith, hope, and belief for millions. In this article, we will explore the importance of the Hem of His garment – from its origin to its impact still felt today. 

We’ll investigate the healing power of Jesus’ garment, the various ways it has been interpreted, and how we can use its meaning to enrich our lives. Through stories and scriptural insights, this article will give you an in-depth look into the significance of the Hem of His garment and its timeless significance.

The Bible is filled with remarkable stories of miraculous healing—even a touch of Jesus’ garment was enough to restore health and wholeness. In Mark 5:25-34, a sick woman touches the hem of Jesus’ garment and is immediately healed. 

In Luke 8:43-48, a woman with 12 years of bleeding is healed—simply by touching Jesus’ robe. These and many more Bible passages illustrate the unlimited power, grace, and healing available to those who turn to Jesus in their time of need. Some of  these accounts are found in the following scripture:

prayer shawl with the text the hem of His garment examining bold faith and healing

“And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment,  for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.”

Matthew 9:20-22  (ESV)


“and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.”

Matthew 14:36  (ESV)

The word “hem” is defined as “fringe, tassel, or the border of a garment.” It says in 

Numbers 15:38-39 (ESV)

“Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after.”

Numbers 15:38-39 (ESV)

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Tzitzit, a Hebrew word for “tassel,” refers to the rectangular mantle worn by the Israelites.

Attached to the four corners of the garment, these tassels served as a reminder of God’s commandments

Over time, the mantle became more rounded, leading to the development of the Tallit, a traditional prayer shawl still worn today by many Orthodox Jews. 

In the New Testament, the woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of Jesus’s garment, likely touching one of the tassels. She probably connected to God’s word and the reminder of His joyous and healing love.

The “tallit” is a prayer shawl containing an inscription designed to evoke reflection and devotion. When donning the shawl, one typically reads the inscription, kissing the first and last words as a sign of respect. Closing their eyes and resting the shawl on their head, Christians often use this opportunity for deep prayer and reflection.

In Christian prayer, some believers wrap themselves in a “tallit” – a cloth that creates a private space that shuts out the outside world. Jesus alludes to this practice in Matthew 6:6, where he advises his audience to enter “their closet” for prayer. Here, the “closet” is seen as a spiritual, rather than physical, space where one can focus on their relationship with God in private.

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:6 (ESV)

Woman With the Issue of Blood

Let’s take a deep look into the story of the woman with the discharge of blood.  To do that, we need to take a step back a few lines of scripture.

When Jesus and His disciples returned to Galilee from the land of the Garasenes, a huge crowd of faithful Christians eagerly awaited His arrival on the shore of the western lake, most likely near Capernaum. What a joyous homecoming it must have been – the sight of Jesus’ boat coming across the expanse of the lake, inspiring them to collect on the beach in anticipation of His arrival.

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.

As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her money on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. 

She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. 

And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” 

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 

And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

Luke 8:40-48 (ESV)

The Press of the Crowd 

Let’s look at each section of scripture here to understand the context.

We’ll leave the mention of Jairus, the synagogue ruler, for now. But as Jesus heads for Jairus’ house to heal his daughter, the crowd is especially large. 

The ESV says, “As Jesus went, the people pressed around him” (8:42). 

The Greek word sumpnigō, commonly translated as “crushed” or “thronged” in the King James Version, is a hyperbolic expression meaning “crowd around, press upon.” 

It’s the same word used in the Parable of the Soils in the Gospels to illustrate the thorns “choking” the wheat and making it unfruitful. It’s an apt metaphor for how the world’s weight can press in and squelch our spiritual growth.

As Jesus and Jairus waded through the dense throng of people in the streets of Capernaum, progress was slow and arduous. It must have felt like the mass exodus of a stadium crowd; only the streets were not equipped to handle such a multitude. Every second wasted felt like an eternity to Jairus, who knew his daughter’s life was quickly ebbing away.

The Woman with the Hemorrhage

“And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone.

Luke 8:43 (ESV)

Among the jostling throng, this day is a wan woman. She had been enduring uterine hemorrhaging for twelve long years, and her strength had been sapped. In her despair, she reaches out to the only One who can grant her relief – Jesus Christ. She has come to Him pleading for a cure and hoping for a miracle, trusting in His ultimate power to restore her. Each Christian can identify with her story, struggling in the midst of everyday life and searching for solace in the Lord.

Mark wrote, “and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.” 

Mark 5:26 (ESV)

Even today, with medical advancements, a hysterectomy is the only treatment that can help many women. But in biblical times, there was no answer. No cure. They didn’t know how to help her.

Are you overwhelmed by a long-term illness that has left you without resolution despite doctors’ attempts? Have you faced expensive medical bills that don’t make a dent in improving your condition? Sometimes it’s difficult to stay hopeful despite draining physical and fiscal hardships.

This woman’s friends had occasionally told her of doctors they knew in faraway towns, but her financial situation and waning faith in medical remedies prevented her from making the journey to find help. 

There seemed to be no hope for her without the funds to afford the necessary treatment and no real expectation of relief. As a Christian, she had been taught that God was the provider of true healing and comfort, but her despair left her without the strength to continue to have faith.

For centuries, Jewish law has viewed women as ceremonially unclean during their menstrual period. This has placed an additional burden on the back of the woman, despite her lack of control over the monthly occurrence. For Christian women, this reminder of their faith’s cultural and historic beliefs does not go unnoticed.

“If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean. 
Every bed on which she lies, all the days of her discharge, shall be to her as the bed of her impurity. And everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her menstrual impurity. And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.” 

Leviticus 15:25-27 (ESV)

This woman has been living out of sight and alone for years due to her physical condition. Though she was feared and ostracized by society and considered “unclean” to the point of not being allowed to attend synagogue worship, this woman never stopped believing that her situation could change. 

She finally found the courage to leave her home in secret and, with determination, make her way to Capernaum to seek healing. Despite the stigma attached to her illness, she never lost faith.

Elbowing Her Way to Touch the Master’s Clothing 

“She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.” 

Luke 8:44 (ESV)

News of Jesus’ miraculous healings had spread far and wide throughout Galilee, even reaching the remote village of this woman. For her, faith in Jesus was her last hope. (Mark 5:27). 

The determined woman was desperate to find the man who could heal her. When his boat was spotted heading towards the shore, she was among the throng of people anxious to meet him. Fully relying on her faith, she hoped to be restored to health.

Jairus was not the only one present when he humbly kneeled before Jesus pleading for his daughter’s life. With Jesus already close by and on his way to Jairus’ house, his daughter was no more than a few steps away.

White Prayer Shawl - Tallit, jewish religious symbol for the post on the hem of His garment

The woman was determined; she was going to reach Jesus, no matter what. With a burst of energy, she pushed and shoved, elbowing her way through the throng with every ounce of strength she had. But despite her weakness and fatigue, she was undeterred – her faith was unshakable. Eventually, with grit and determination, she made it to Jesus.

She has decided in her heart, 

“For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 

Mark 5:28 (ESV)

Haunted by her affliction, she yearned for a cure. But she was too ashamed to reveal her suffering to others, especially in public. Desperate to be made whole, she had only one option: seek out Jesus. The thought of touching him in her unclean state filled her with fear, and yet she mustered the courage. With trembling hands, she touched the hem of His garment and found immediate relief. The healing she longed for had come at last. He had made her clean.

The Touch that Released Jesus’ Power 

When she touched the hem of His garment, the effect was powerful and immediate.

“And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.'” 

Luke 8:45-46 (ESV)

Mark says, “And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.” 

Mark 5:29 (ESV)

As the crowds jostled and bumped against Jesus, He felt nothing – except when the woman touched Him. Then, Jesus was immediately aware. Her touch felt as though the power had gone out of Him.

“Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me” 

Luke 8:46 (ESV) 

The Greek word dunamis, which brings us the English words ‘dynamo’ and ‘dynamic,’ is often translated as “power” in the New International Version and “virtue” in the King James Version. Dunamis emphasizes the strength, might, and force behind God’s power.

The essence of this story is the striking contrast between those who touched Jesus and received His saving grace through faithful belief and those who surrounded Him and did not receive His blessings. Despite being only feet away from Jesus, dozens of people failed to recognize Him for who He was and did not receive the freedom and liberation that comes with believing in Him. The only person who experienced Jesus’ saving power was the woman who, despite being ill, held onto her faith. This teaches us that the power of Jesus’ salvation is only accessible through faithful trust in Him.

Your Faith Has Healed You 

“And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”'” 

Luke 8:47-48 (ESV)

Surrounded by a sea of judgemental eyes, the once-unknown woman stands trembling in silence as she quietly slips her way through the crowd to get to Jesus. Unclean and oppressed, she has no place to hide and no one to turn to. Yet despite the ever-present judgment, she falls at Jesus’ feet and pours out her story. Desperate for a solution and with no other choice, she finds the courage to take a bold step of faith.

Jesus exposed the woman’s secret to show the power of His healing grace. We don’t know why Luke chose not to tell us the woman’s secret in his Gospel, but this story exemplifies how Jesus’ healing grace can lift us up no matter our circumstances. Importantly, His grace allows us to share our burdens with Him, and it’s something Christians can all appreciate.

  1. Jesus provided a path of redemption for the woman in need. He didn’t condemn her but blessed her with God’s peace, tenderly calling her “daughter” and restoring her self-esteem and standing in the community, particularly in Capernaum. In one brief moment, He removed the terrible burden of uncleanness she had been bearing.
  2. Jesus spoke to clarify that the healing of this woman wasn’t simply down to superstition or magic. Instead, He acknowledged, “Your faith had healed you.” Her faith in God, not in Jesus’ clothing, had impacted her healing. He made it clear: God working through Him enabled this remarkable recovery.

Bold, Persistent Faith

When I think about this story, I am amazed by this woman’s faith. It is a pushy faith. An elbow-my-way and don’t-take-no-for-an-answer faith. It is a faith that doesn’t quit. And I think that Jesus was pleased. In a future post, we’ll examine two parables Jesus told about prayer and faith. In both parables, we see a bold, persistent faith that Jesus seeks in us:

The disciples were to learn from this “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” 

Luke 18:1 (ESV)

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” 

Luke 11:9-10 (ESV)

When we look at the example of this determined woman, her faith in Jesus gave her the healing she so yearned for. In a future lesson, we’ll explore the story of Jairus, a man whose trust in Jesus wavered when he was told his daughter had died. Nevertheless, Jesus was able to reinvigorate Jairus’ faith through His reassuring words. For any Christian struggling to keep their faith alive in difficult times, this story of Jairus reminds them that Jesus is always there to provide support.

But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” 

Luke 8:50 (ESV)

Jesus desires that we have faith like the hemorrhaging woman who unhesitatingly touched the hem of His garment. If our faith is still on its journey, He will support and nurture us until we become strong enough to stand tall.

Faith is often expressed in those moments of raw life that push us to our limits, where we are challenged by fear but are not overcome. For the woman bleeding, this meant twelve long years of sickness, embarrassment, and frustration – until the moment Jesus stepped in and she was miraculously healed. Although she was overjoyed, her faith was truly revealed as she trembled before Jesus when he asked, “Who touched me?” These moments mirror our own lives and show that faith is alive in us, even in our darkest hours.

Dear Christian, Jesus loves you and knows you have moments of weakness in your faith. While He is aware of your worries, He is urging you to take a leap of faith and “go for it.” He promises He will be right there with you, even if you stumble. He is teaching you to have faith in Him. Like when He reassured the woman He healed, He is saying to you today, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” Trust in Him!

Prayer for Bold Faith

Heavenly Father, your patience is something we can always count on. Help us to have robust, courageous faith in you, Lord. We feel your presence with us, guiding us on our journey of faith. Nudge us to return to the path if we veer off, and fill us with the same zeal as the sick woman in the story. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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My Story and the Hem of His Garment

In late 2019, when my cancer returned, this Bible story continued to be on my mind.  During treatment and surgeries and again now that the cancer has once again returned and I am going through chemo once more, this story holds me up.

When I pray, I imagine myself reaching for Jesus’ robe – just the hem – and knowing that my faith in Him will heal me.  Maybe not on this side of the earth – although I pray that is the case – but I pray for healing.

I have bold faith.  I refuse to believe that my story ends here.  I truly believe that the Lord has brought me to this diagnosis to glorify Him. I can only hope that He is glorified by my words and actions.

The Lord can heal us from anything – broken relationships, financial hardships, health issues.  He is Jehovah Rapha, the Lord Who Heals. 

What are you reaching for the hem of His garment to heal you from?

You may enjoy one of these recommended resources:

The Hem of His Garment: Touching the Power in God’s Word by John D. Garr

Hem of His Garment: True Stories of Healing by Lawrence J. Gesy

NO MATTER WHAT!: My Journey To The Hem Of His Garment by Marcia Buterakos Marron

Or this song Touch the Hem – William McDowell ft. Trinity Anderson (Official Live Video)

ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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