The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Hem of His Garment’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 1/25/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1KbWCq9
The Hem of His Garment
I love divine healing. Jesus gave us all the authority we would ever need to go out and heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out demons in His name (Matt 11:5). I started believing God for healing when I needed it in my own body. I kept believing God for healing when I saw the results. And now I believe God for healing everywhere I go.
One of the most famous accounts of healing in the Bible occurs in Luke 8 (also see Matt 9). Jesus had already been teaching and healing the multitudes. He became very famous, very quickly, as a result of Who He Is. Crowds of people sought Him out for healing. But there was one woman in particular who caught His attention; today she catches our attention as well. This is the story of the woman with the issue of blood.
So it was, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him. And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. And he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying. – Lk 8:40-42a
Right off the bat, Luke paints a phenomenal picture for us. This is a picture of what Sunday morning church service should look like every single week. The multitudes were waiting in eager anticipation for what Jesus was about to do. Now I’m not saying that we need to physically be in church for supernatural things to happen. However, there is a corporate anointing that tends to amplify, and sometimes accelerate, what God is doing in a particular place.
The people wanted to encounter Jesus Christ, because they knew He would heal them. Is that a constant reality at your church? Is that a constant reality in your life? Do you encourage people to seek God for healing because you’ve seen Him do it, over and over again?
Jairus was one of the most prominent Jewish men in the town. He was a ruler of the synagogue, and an expert in religion. Yet here we see him begging Jesus to heal his daughter. He was desperate, and he knew Jesus was her only chance. The message to us is that no amount of religion can get you healed. No amount of knowledge can get you healed. There is no earthly achievement that can get you healed. Jesus heals, and what we all need is a direct encounter with Him!
But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him. Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” – Lk 8:42b-48
Context is key to understand the significance of this story. This woman with the issue of blood would have been considered “unclean” according to Levitical Law. Legally speaking, she should have been marching through the streets, and shouting, “Unclean! Unclean!” everywhere she went. Failing to follow that protocol was an offense punishable by death.
This woman had already spent every penny she owned on medical care. Financially speaking, she had already risked everything to find a cure, but those efforts had come up short. Now, she was willing to risk it all on Jesus.
Healing With Ease
Jesus heals easily. First, it is worth noting that Jesus was not on His way to find and heal that woman. He was on His way to Jairus’ house. In other words, healing this woman was an afterthought to Jesus. It was easy. He didn’t have to mentally prepare to face this woman, or conjure up enough faith to pray for her. He didn’t review a pre-contrived routine, our produce a scripted prayer. She simply touched Him, and she was healed.
And she barely touched Him. The woman didn’t run out from the crowd and tackle Jesus. She grabbed the hem of His garment: the outermost part of His garment, which was most separated from His body. Just one touch is enough. Jesus can heal you anytime, anywhere.
Jesus’ response is worth examining. I used to read the words, “Who touched me?” and assume that Jesus was angry. We tell the story as if Jesus turned around, with fire in His eyes, and demanded that whoever had dared to touch Him should step forward. Then the woman, timid and afraid because of the death sentence she legally deserved, stepped forward.
But I don’t think Jesus was angry with her. He simply wanted her to share her testimony. Here was a woman who had tried everything to be healed, and nothing had worked! Jesus knew that unless He pointed out that something miraculous had just taken place, His disciples would miss it. When the woman shared, His response was one of love and compassion. He declared her healed, by faith and not by works. She deserved a death sentence, but He found it in His heart to show her compassion instead. And that is the treatment God affords each and every single one of us when we lean on Him for healing and salvation!
Jesus heals easily. I always get a kick out of Mark’s account of Jesus returning to His hometown:
Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them… – Mk 6:1-5
Jesus was surrounded by haters. Because they were too familiar with Him, they lacked faith; and because they lacked faith, Jesus could perform no mighty works.
But notice that He still healed, “…a few sick people!” To Jesus, healing is fun. It’s not a mighty work; it’s an afterthought! Healing is easy for Him, even in environments where the people present lack faith. What causes us – His disciples – to drop our jaws and marvel at the power of God should be commonplace! We shouldn’t read about healing and dream about God doing something analogous in our lives; we should read about healing and stake our claim to everything His word promises us!
God calls Himself Jehovah Rapha: The God Who Heals (Ex 15:26). Healing is not just something He does; it’s Who He Is. I can wake up every day and be confident that I am me. I am Mike every single day; it doesn’t matter if I’m in a good mood, or a terrible one. I am still me. And God Is always God. He always heals.
Stepping Out in Faith
Jesus chided the people of Nazareth for their lack of faith. The writer of Hebrews does exactly the same thing:
For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. – Heb 4:2
Jesus is looking for us to mix faith with His word. Without faith, the word will not be profitable; but when we have faith, God is free to exercise His word as He pleases!
Once our faith is cultivated, God often asks us to step out in obedience to receive our healing. John describes an encounter between Jesus and a man at the Pool at Bethesda that illustrates this principle:
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. – Jn 5:1-9
This man had been lying by the waters at Bethesda for thirty-eight years! We must pay attention to Jesus’ first question for this man: “Do you want to be made well?” Why would Jesus ask him that? This poor guy had been stuck there for 38 years! How could he not want to be made well?
But the man never answers Jesus’ question. I make this statement from a place of love: Some of us don’t want to be healed. Some of us are so bound up in our condition of infirmity that it has become part of who we are. For some of us, sickness has become part of our identity, and we don’t want to let it go! Some of us are hiding behind sickness as an explanation for why we haven’t followed God with all our heart. Do you want to be made well?
The man at the Pool at Bethesda responded in a way that passed off responsibility to someone else. He didn’t respond with an ecstatic, “Yes! I want to be made well!” He responded with deference. “If only someone else had picked me up and put me into the pool.” I believe Jesus was making abundantly clear that it is no one else’s responsibility to cultivate faith for our healing in us: it is our own responsibility to create a desire to get well!
Do you want to be healed? Are you going to let the world define you as sick? Or are you going to let God define you as made whole? All it took for this man to be completely healed was one encounter with Jesus Christ. And that is all it’s going to take in your own life.
Healing and salvation happened on the same day. But the choice to accept either one of those rewards is not one that we can make on behalf of someone else. We have to make that choice ourselves.
I can show you every Scripture that points to the Cross as the one and only way to salvation. I can show you every passage that demonstrates righteousness by faith, and not by works. I can state with full confidence that God’s will is to heal all His children, all the time (see Matt 8:16, Matt 12:15, Lk 6:19, Acts 10:38). But I can’t receive your healing for you. The choice is yours: will you accept the healing God wants you to have? Do you want to be healed?
The woman with the issue of blood didn’t have to rip Jesus’ shirt off His back. She didn’t even have to grab a whole fist-full of His robe. All she had to do was reach out and touch the hem – the outermost edge – of His garment, and she was completely healed.
We see the same pattern repeated in Matthew’s account of the Gospel:
When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well. – Matt 14:34-36
One touch is more than enough. As many as touched the outermost edge of Jesus’ clothing were completely made well.
God does not require perfection; He only requires faith. I would be willing to bet that the men and women who ended up touching the hem of His garment set out to do much more than that. They probably wanted to hug Him, or grab Him to get His attention as they begged for healing. But they came up short. They grasped for Him, but were only able to hold on to a shadow of His form – the very outermost part of Who He Is. And that was enough.
Abraham was righteous by faith, and not by works. That is the model that each and every one of us should follow when it comes to salvation. The woman with the issue of blood was healed by faith, and not by works; and that is the model that each and every one of us should follow when it comes to healing.
One touch of His garment is enough. One glimpse of His glory is enough. The men and women whom Jesus healed didn’t have to pass a theology quiz. They didn’t have to prove to Jesus that they deserved to be healed. They simply had to make a decision to reach out, with whatever little energy they had left, and touch Jesus Christ.
– by Pastor Mike White
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