Consider this passage from Mark …
When they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him (Jesus), and ran about that whole country and began to carry here and there on their pallets those who were sick, to the place they heard He was. Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured. Mark 6:54-56 (NASB)
Try to visualize that passage … the excitement and anticipation that motivated the crowds of people to carry their sick friends and family that they might simply touch the fringe of Jesus’ cloak … imagine the joy of being cured simply by touching His cloak … as many as touched it were being cured.
Or what about this passage from Acts?
And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed. Acts 5:14-16 (NASB)
And the very scene described above with Jesus was repeated here in the first century church … can you imagine the kind of faith it would take to believe that if only the shadow of Peter will fall upon my sick relative or friend then he/she will be healed?
An extremely powerful and hopeful others-based faith!
Now let me digress but for a moment … remember those family road trips at Thanksgiving and other times of the year …
If you have siblings, did you have those territorial wars in the back seat of the car on family trips? You know … there was an imaginary line in the back seat that served as the demarcation zone. Your sibling dare not cross that line … or you unleashed the power of the front seat police (aka your parents) on your back seat companion. And heaven forbid … if your sibling actually touched you. Or maybe this was just me and my sister … and then my kids and grandkids … and me and my wife … OK, so I’ve never quite grown up.
I don’t know why … but at first glance the following passage of Scripture brought that memory to the forefront of my mind …
A large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him. 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, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 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 crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?'” And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. 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.” Mark 5:24b-34 (NASB)
Of course Jesus is not asking why because someone has violated His space … there is a very teachable moment in this incident and He had several lessons for us all to learn …
- Huge faith will prompt you to take steps that make absolutely no sense (I mean really … touch the hem of Jesus’ cloak and you’ll be healed?)
- Exercised faith taps into the power of God for hope fulfilled (She thought ‘If I just touch His garments, I will get well’, so she touched His cloak, immediately she was healed, and immediately Jesus realized power had gone forth from Him to heal her).
- Hope fulfilled warrants our immediate worship of God, our testimony of the great things He has done in our life and that God receive all the glory for that work! (The woman could have been healed and walked away with no one the wiser … but Jesus wanted her to acknowledge the miracle that healed her of her affliction by falling down before God and speaking the truth in her testimony. And He wanted her to understand that God healed her as a result of her God ordained and inspired faith … how many millions of people have now heard that message?)
Another message I perceive in this whole account … Jesus is not to be the last resort in times of affliction. This woman had been struggling with her affliction for twelve years and had undergone treatments at the hands of many physicians (her hope seems to have always been in the next treatment or the next physician) and as a result, rather than being helped had gotten worse. Finally, she turned to God IN Jesus and was healed. Now I do not see this as a condemnation of seeking treatment through a physician … remember that Luke was both a historian and a physician. What I do see is this … Jesus is to be our preeminent hope in ALL circumstance at ALL times. How He then chooses to respond, care, treat and/or heal us can come through ways and means way beyond our ability to comprehend or fathom …
After all, who would have ever thought touching a cloak or having a shadow pass over could heal you?
We do believe Lord … help us in our unbelief! (consider Mark 9:24 and the corresponding passage)