Matthew 14:34-46; Mark 53-56
“Wherever he went – in villages, cities, or the countryside – they brought the sick out to the marketplaces. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.” – Mark 6:56 NLT
They had made it shore, safe and sound. Their evening and early morning adventure on the lake had been a memorable one. The disciples had been caught in yet another storm. This time without Jesus in the boat with them. He had stayed behind to pray. But He had appeared to them in the middle of the storm, walking on the water. The sight of Jesus walking on top of the waves and surrounded by the blowing mist and darkness, had scared them more than the storm. But now they were all safe again near the town of Gennesaret. And as soon as they were able to climb out of the boat, the crowds spotted Jesus. It didn’t take long for the news to spread and the crowds to show up. And Mark tells us that wherever Jesus went – in the villages, cities, or countryside – the crowds would appear. Anyone who was sick or had a friend or relative who was sick, flocked to Jesus. He was like the Pied Piper of Palestine.
Interestingly enough, both Matthew and Mark record that people were begging Jesus to simply let the sick touch at hem of his robe, and that all who were able to do so, were healed. Where did they get this idea? Obviously news had reached them about the woman in Capernaum, who had touched Jesus’ robe and been healed (Mark 5:24-34). Jesus had told her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over” (Mark 6:34 NLT). Now there were hundreds, if not thousands, of sick people who wanted the opportunity to touch Jesus’ robe and be healed. And Mark tells us, “all who touched him were healed” (Mark 6:56 NLT). Matthew makes the same claim. Not some, but all. What a scene this must have been. Into every town and village where Jesus walked, a crowd would surround Him, reaching out to touch Him. I can imagine the disciples trying to act as bodyguards, attempting to keep the crowds away. They probably feared for Jesus’ safety. But nothing was going to keep the sick from reaching Him. They were needy and desperate, and their need and desperation drove them to get to Jesus any way they possibly could. They were determined. And as each one touched Him, they were immediately healed from whatever disease from which they suffered. As Jesus walked along, He would have left countless healed and happy people shouting and dancing in His wake. All because they had touched His robe. What power. What incredible proof of who He claimed to be. Just hours before, the disciples had watched Jesus walk on water and had exclaimed, “You really are the Son of God!” (Matthew 14:33 NLT). Now they were watching as Jesus gave further undeniable proof of His claim to be not only their Messiah, but the Son of God.
Did all those people who touched His robe and received healing believe He was the Messiah? Did they acknowledge Him as the Son of God? We’re not told one way or the other. But they obviously believed He could heal them. So they came and they reached out and touched His robe. And they were healed. They received back their health. They were made physically whole. But there is no indication that they were spiritually transformed. Like so many of Jesus’ miracles, these were intended as lessons for the disciples – those men whom Jesus had chosen and who would take the message of Good News to the world once Jesus had died, resurrected and returned to heaven. Every time someone touched Jesus’ robe and received healing, it was meant to solidify in the minds of the disciples that He really was who He said He was. When He walked on the water, it was proof of His deity. When He fed the 5,000, it was proof of the limitless nature of His power as the Son of God. When He cast out demons, it was evidence of His sovereignty over all things, not only in the physical realm, but the spiritual. His power was so great, that those who simply touched the hem of His robe received complete healing. No words spoken. No conversations had. No details shared. A single touch and wholeness was restored.
But Jesus Himself had said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10 NLT). He came to restore the spiritually sick to wholeness. He came to bring healing, but not of the physical kind. He came to heal the broken souls of men and restore them to a right relationship with His Father. He came to redeem mankind out of slavery to sin and offer Himself as the payment for the penalty they owed to God as rebellious sinners. Many, if not most, of the people who received physical healing from Jesus would go on to reject Him as their Lord and Savior. They would end up mocking Him as He hung on the cross. They had gotten from Him all that they really wanted from Him. They were well physically, and that was all that mattered to them. But Jesus came to give us so much more. He came to give us eternal life, not just a temporary fix to our physical lives. Those very same people would inevitably get sick again. They would all end up dying at some point. And while they had touched the hem of His robe and received healing, what they had really needed was Jesus to touch their hearts and give them new life. Perhaps many of these same people came to faith in Jesus after His resurrection. They may have been there that day at Pentecost when the disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit, “began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability” (Acts 2:4 NLT). They could have been in the crowd when Peter spoke, and said, “each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38 NLT). And “those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day – about 3,000 in all” (Acts 2:41 NLT). Surely, there were some who had received healing from Jesus who eventually received salvation from Jesus. But there were others who were probably content with what they had. Jesus came to provide so much more. The healing He offers is eternal, not temporary. The touch He offers is meant to heal the soul, not just the body. Anyone could reach out and touch His robe and receive physical healing. But only Jesus can touch a heart and provide salvation for the soul.
Father, thank You sending Your Son to touch me. When I wasn’t even able to see my own sin and admit my own need, He mercifully and graciously touched me and showed me my need and offered me His solution. I am eternally grateful. Thank You for healing me from the inside out. Thank You for the assurance, that while this body is prone to disease and decay, my soul is whole and my future is secure in You. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men