Mark’s language seems to paint a somewhat frenetic, if not chaotic, situation. People running about “the whole region” at Gennesaret, grabbing up the sickbeds of infirm loved ones and friends, and then rushing to where they anticipated Jesus would be. In the villages, the cities, and even the countryside, scores of people laying the sick in the marketplace in hopeful anticipation that today would be the day things would get better. And then as Jesus, undoubtedly enveloped by a following crowd, passed by, they cried out to the Master for healing.
What a frenzy. Yet what faith. For they sought but the fringe. Even the fringe of His garment.
And wherever He came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored Him that they might touch even the fringe of His garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
(Mark 6:56 ESV)
In our men’s Bible study we’ve been in the latter chapters of Daniel for the past few weeks. Mind-blowing dreams. Word-defying visions. Angelic visitations providing future revelation. Talk about your encounters of the divine kind! Big! Bold! The curtain of the spiritual realm pulled back so that the unimaginable might be imagined, so that the unexplainable might be explained
And then I read this morning of touching even the fringe of His garment. And I wonder, Is this any less an encounter of the divine kind? Any less a connection with the spiritual realm? Though it doesn’t involve some apocalyptic play being acted out before for their eyes, is it no less jaw-dropping to consider the power of God accessed even by simply reaching out to touch the hem of the clothes Jesus wore?
Daniel was separated from God by a great expanse that mighty angels had to fight to bridge. Jesus, God incarnate, walked among the people. Daniel’s encounters left him pale, depleted, without strength. But in marketplaces all over Gennesaret the broken were healed, the infirm infused with power, lame people leaping, abandoned sickbeds strewn about in the wake of Jesus’ passing. And this because the broken went to Jesus, and reached out to Jesus, even the fringe of His garment.
Not about how great their faith was, but that they had faith. Not about their ability to stand before Jesus and plead their case, but that they believed enough to just want to get near Jesus and touch His garment, even if but the border of it. Not about their strength–they were bedridden. But about the Savior’s power–power appropriated through even the fringe of His garment.
Sometimes I feel like I’m the sick guy on the bed. And too often I feel like I need to get my act together, power my way off the mat, and get myself back up on my own two feet in order to reconnect with Jesus. But what I really need to do is, by faith, reach out from wherever I am, even if it’s on my back in the dust of a chaotic situation, and touch the fringe of His garment. Knowing that He is present to see. Believing that He is patient and will sympathize, even when it’s not the first time (nor will it be the last) He’s seen me on the mat. Trusting in His power to set straight that which is broken, and to strengthen that which is worn out.
All through reaching out for a touch. A touch, if only on the fringe. Even the fringe of His garment.
By His grace. For His glory.