Reach for the Fringe

From other gospel accounts you know the woman was at the end of her rope. In Matthew it simply says she “had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years.” But Luke records that she had spent all her living on physicians and could not be healed by anyone (Lk. 8:43) And Mark captures the depths of her despair as he writes that she “had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse” (Mk. 5:26). Twelve years of suffering, twelve years of battling, twelve years and she was no better off but rather grew worse. And so she turns to Jesus.

But He’s not all that accessible. The crowds surround Him. Many important people are demanding His attention. Yet she has a plan. Given who the Master is . . . in light of all that she has heard of what He has done . . . she comes to the conclusion that all she needs to do is reach for the fringe.

And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will be made well.”

(Matthew 9:20-21 ESV)

All she thought she needed was a bit of the hem. She’d knew that when it came to Jesus, that proximity to but the edge of His presence would be enough. And so this woman who was without health, and without wealth, and was less than even a face in the crowd, mustered up all the strength she had and pressed in to touch the fringe of His garment.

And I’m thinking that sometimes that’s all you feel you can do–reach for the fringe. Though invited to come boldly to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16), you feel like all you can do is limp into His presence. You’re so dry, your words are but a whisper as you “with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Php. 4:6). But if this woman’s story is to be applied, she reminds us that even the fringe is more than enough.

Jesus turned, and seeing her He said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

(Matthew 9:22 ESV)

She reached for the fringe, He turned around and gave her His face. She was has content simply to brush His hem, He looked directly into her eyes. She was physically spent, He revived her soul. She only had a mustard seed of faith to plant, and He moved mountains and made her well.

All she needed to do was come to Him. In her current condition, in her frailty, in her desperation, all she needed to do was what she could do. And, in her case, it was to reach for the fringe.

Isn’t that what Jesus invites us to do when He says, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28)? Whether He’s speaking to the guilt ridden sinner who can no longer bear the weight of their transgression, or extending anew the invitation to weary followers to find refuge in Him, He wants us to come, even if we feel like all we have left is the ability to reach for the fringe.

We seek but the hem, and we see His face. We desire just to touch His garment, and He shows us His love. We reach out believing His grace is sufficient, and we find rest for our souls. We want but to know a bit of His presence, and He shows us His glory.

This is amazing grace!

To Him be all praise!

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