The Whole Truth

Telling the Whole Truth

“Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth” (Mark 5:33).

As a parent, I know that there’s “the truth” and then there’s “the whole truth.”

Most arguments between my children happen when I’m downstairs and they’re upstairs, or I’m cooking and they’re playing. I dash into the family room or the bedroom and ask, “What happened?” The carnage is everywhere. I access my mental clipboard as I assess the damage. There are three men down. One is groaning; another one crying; a third one defiantly defending himself. I see a splotch of red on a scrawny arm that’s been squeezed and yanked. Glasses are on the floor next to the lamp that used to be on the bureau.

I identify equipment failures. A green army guy dangles from the ceiling fan. His parachute did not deploy. A smashed-up Lego starship is scattered across the bedroom galaxy. I attribute that to enemy fire. The bunk bed ladder is napping horizontally on the ground. Surely a tactical maneuver. “Who’s in charge, here?” I shout like an angry general. All is quiet on the bedroom battlefield. I fear that I am the one in charge, and I have no idea what to do.

Then the troops gain their courage, and that’s when I get many different “truths.” “He pushed me.” “He wrecked my Lego set.” “He wouldn’t let me play.” “He took my First Order Storm Trooper.”

But the whole truth tells about all of the battles that led up to the war. The whole truth helps us understand how we got to that particular moment in time. The whole truth is more than the facts. It’s feelings and fears and frustrations. The whole truth is what Jesus wants to hear. It’s our story.

Sometimes the whole truth is hard to tell. Even so, Jesus wants to hear it, because he is interested in healing the whole person.


The Whole Truth About Suffering

What was the whole truth that the unnamed woman told Jesus? Mark tells us in verses 25 and 26: “And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 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 gospel writer Luke, who himself was a doctor, does not include the detail that the woman actually grew worse under the care of physicians.

When she told Jesus “the whole truth,” she told him that she had a bleeding condition. She told him about the money she wasted on feckless and reckless doctors. She told him that she had spent all she had. She was poor. We don’t know the names and faces of these doctors, but she would never forget them. Perhaps a local doctor in Capernaum sent her to a specialist in Sepphoris. Then maybe on to Jerusalem, or on a wild goose chase into the country to visit a doctor who prescribed herbal medicine that helped a friend of a friend of a friend. She told Jesus that she had tried everything. Elixirs and salves, oils and ointments and exercises. She had been under the care of doctors, but to no avail. None of the advice, none of the medicine, stopped the problem. In addition to emptying her purse, it actually made her condition worse.

She had nothing left to give financially. Nothing left to give physically. Nothing left to give emotionally. She told Jesus the whole truth. She told him that she touched him because she wanted healing.


Trembling with the Truth

She trembles as she spills the whole truth out to the savior. Her secret touch of healing is now exposed to a multitude of people. Will the crowd turn against her? Will Jesus be angry? After all, she just made him—and possibly scores of bystanders—unclean. Will he take her healing away?

That’s why the woman in our passage trembled with fear when she fell at Jesus’ feet. How would Jesus treat her “whole truth”? Everyone else she asked for help took advantage of her whole truth or ignored her whole truth or increased her pain. But not Jesus. Women can trust Jesus with the whole truth.

Jesus doesn’t recoil. Instead, he calls her daughter. It’s the only time Jesus refers to someone as “daughter” in Scripture. The only time. Right here. He reserves the word for this silent sufferer who secretly threads her way through the crowds to Jesus and then must publicly proclaim her whole truth. She does it all on a scrap of faith. Daughter is a tender term of endearment and love. It’s a word that says you are family, you belong.

Daughter, you can tell Jesus the whole truth. He can handle it and he can help you.


Patricia Batten