Tuesday, January 31, 2006
#31 The Hem of His Garment
#31 The Hem of His Garment
January 31, 2006
"And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped." (Luke 8:43-44)
"When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, 'If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.' " ( Mark 5:27-28)
Right in the middle of the account of the healing of Jairus' daughter, we find an incredible story of healing and faith. We meet a woman with an issue of blood. The exact nature of her ailment is not defined but it is believed that she suffered from a "feminine" disorder that had caused her to bleed for twelve years. Her condition defied the skills of physicians. It seemed pretty hopeless. Mark tells us that she spent all of her money and still grew worse. Because of this condition, the woman was permanently, ritually unclean (Leviticus 15:25-27). She would have been cut off from going to the temple and having any contact with people because of her "uncleanness". She could have no social life, she was never invited to parties and she could not even enjoy a comforting hug from her friends.
She heard about Jesus. She snuck into the crowd. The Amplified Bible says that she "kept saying", probably to herself..."If I only touch His garments, I will be restored to health." She had such faith that she didn't even need Jesus' attention. She just needed a touch. What she was about to do was unforgivable. Touching Jesus would make Him ritually unclean along with all of the other people around her that she would touch while trying to get to Him. But desperation took over and overrode everything else. She just needed to touch His garments. Just the tassel on His garment (see Numbers 15:38).
Our lady had many obstacles to overcome in getting close to the Master. Besides her uncleanness, the crowd was massive. Luke 8:19 tells us that even Jesus' mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Having this condition for twelve years, losing blood for that long a period of time, had no doubt left her in poor physical condition. Did she have the strength to push through the huge crowd, being jostled here and there, to get to Him? And on top of it all, she wanted to remain unseen and unnoticed! She continued on in spite of it all. "If I only touch His garments, I will be restored to health. I will be healed if I only touch the hem of His garment", she repeats over and over again. Faith gives her the ability to fight the obstacles and win.
And win she did! There He was, right in front of her. She sneaks up from behind, touches the edge of His cloak and is immediately healed...the bleeding stopped! It was just like she thought...she didn't even need to touch HIM...just the hem of the garment that He wore! But to her horror, instead of being able to sneak away she hears Him say, "Who touched me?" The Bible tells us that Jesus felt "virtue" go out of Him. The Greek word is "dunamis" and means "force" or "power". And He asks, "Who touched me?" Jesus could discern between the casual accidental bodily contacts He was making and the outreach of faith that came from that woman's touch. Just as secret acts of sin are known to God...so are secret acts of faith. She couldn't sneak away. The Healer himself was calling her out.
Frightened and trembling, she comes out of hiding and falls at His feet. I imagine Jesus lifting her chin tenderly so that He could see her face. Dare she, an unclean sinner, a woman no less, face her Healer? She does and she tells Him what happened; why she touched Him and how she was instantly healed. And He says, "Daughter [she wasn't just any woman...she was special to Him], your faith has healed you. Go in peace." The words "go in peace" were a recognized way of giving assurance. She was not only healed today but she was to remain free and continue in health. She was saved. She could come out of the darkness and shame that had her bound for twelve years and live again! Jesus had accomplished what no amount of medical knowledge or money ever could. With just one touch of the hem of His garment. And not only is this exchange between the two of them, the crowd, and now we, 2000 years later, hear "your faith has healed you." We see faith put on public display. Jesus was not willing to let this opportunity to teach the importance of faith slip away. He wanted everyone to know the power of faith, the awesomeness of faith, the importance of faith. We later read that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
I believe that this woman and her story are a picture of you and I. We were dead in sin and unclean before God. Isaiah 64:6 tells us, "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy (menstrual) rags." But then we touched the hem of His garment. We grabbed on to the tassel. And we were saved. Instantly. Completely. Eternally. Jesus accomplished for us what no intelligence, money, influence or personal achievement ever could. Complete forgiveness of sins and right standing with God.
Our lady had an issue of blood. What is your "issue"? How long have you carried it? Twelve years? Less? More? Our lady was desperate. How desperate are you to touch Jesus? Will you defy convention? Go against the press of the crowd to get to Him? Our lady had great obstacles. What obstacles or limitations do you have that could cause you to not press forward to get to Him? Is He your first or last resort? Are you seeking His power in your situation or looking everywhere else first? Are you content to sneak up from behind, quietly, unnoticed? Or are you bold enough to declare your faith in Jesus before the massive crowd? I ask you to prayerfully ponder these questions this week and know that your healing awaits. It waits despite the crowd, despite the limits, despite the hopelessness. It waits in the awesome power that you will find in just the hem of His garment.
"..if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20)