34 When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret.
35 And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick,
36 and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.
Having taken a thirty-year hiatus from attending church, when I first went back to church I went with an ulterior motive. No, I didn't go there to meet women! I went there to meet good Christian friends who would be uplifting in my life struggles. I was recovering from personal trials, my first marriage had fallen apart, my kids were living with my ex-wife, and I was broken and utterly alone. I had started seeking God to heal me of my troubles, and as I tried to change my life, I realized I needed Christian fellowship to really make a new life for myself. Well, I certainly found the good men and good friendship I was seeking, and my life has changed for the better, but I have found so much more! When I went into that church, I thought I really had high hopes for what I would find there, and yet Jesus showed me that I was truly aiming too low. Christ has given me far more than I ever thought to find, and He has given me hope and expectation for even more.
I think a lot of people come to Christ with similarly low expectations. We come to Him simply hoping for healing--as it says in today's verses, that we might "only touch the hem of His garment." But there is so much more to hope for, so much more to be had in our relationship with the Lord our God and His Son Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit. We come to Jesus simply asking for some change in this mortal realm, and yet there are changes that happen in the spiritual realm whenever we pray to Jesus.
"Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
The blessings we experience in the worldly realm are simply a reflection of God acting on our behalf in the spiritual realm--binding the powers that would seek to harm us, turning loose the blessings He has in store for us. When we lay claim to physical or emotional healing, it is like laying claim to the tip of an iceberg: there is far more beyond our sight that we cannot see and yet which is holding up the part upon which we stand. In chapter ten of the book of Daniel, we read that Daniel fasted and sought counsel from the Lord concerning the fate of the Jews in captivity, and yet he was unaware that a battle was already raging on a spiritual front and that the lead angel in that battle made a point to come to Daniel so that the truth of God's Word would be known. Daniel's very first prayer was enough to stir God to send that angel to answer him, and the three-week "delay" was only because the angel faced such terrible enemies. That sort of battle rages all around us as we seek the Lord and His healing.
In today's verses, we see that Jesus' fame as a healer and prophet had preceded Him to the land of Gennesaret, a fertile area on the west side of the Sea of Galilee. As often happened at the height of His ministry, people came from far and wide to seek His healing touch. But what did they receive? They were "made perfectly well," it says in our English translation. The Greek verb is "diasozo," which means to save completely, to preserve, to escape. It is not simply healing--although its root word "sozo" is sometimes translated "heal"--but more the idea of being saved from harm, being preserved by the hand of God, escaping from the burdens we bear and trials we face. The King James translation of that verse puts it rather nicely: "and as many as touched were made perfectly whole." Whole in body, whole in spirit, whole in mind, whole in their hearts.
And yet they only came to touch the hem of Jesus' robe and get a taste of the divine power that flowed from Him. They came to heal their illnesses and received so much more!
We often pray, "Lord Jesus, see me through this current trial," and we expect to be given strength and wisdom to face our most immediate situation. But Jesus brings us far greater strength and wisdom and power and wholeness than we ever expect!
1 John 4:4
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
Jesus is not simply EQUAL to the tasks we lay before Him, He is GREATER than all of them!
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Jesus Christ now lives in believers, and so it is not WE who must face these worldly trials but Christ Himself who stands for us. And He is, as John wrote above, "greater than he who is in the world."
When I hear about people praying for riches and success, I have to chuckle a bit as I think to myself, "Wow! They sure are aiming low!" To simply "name it and claim it" for worldly things or simple healing is setting the bar too low. Any old fool can get rich, can find success, can get a nice house and nice car, can have a child, can get out of a bad neighborhood, can even be healed from his or her current ailment. Jesus offers to make us PERFECTLY WELL, to thoroughly save us, to help us escape from the prisons that entrap us and the worldly life we take for granted. We seek simply to touch of His robe when He is holding out His hand. We seek a trickle of His healing power when He offers the full torrent of God's grace. We seek healing of our immediate sicknesses when He offers to preserve our lives forever.
"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
Not just life does He offer, but life above and beyond what we expect.
When I came to the church, I had aimed so low that I was pleasantly surprised to find even a little bit more. And when I finally accepted Christ, I similarly was ready to "settle" for simply being saved from the life I had been living. But Jesus gave me more than I ever expected or even bargained for. He gave me more than just healing: he gave me purpose and calling and wisdom and faith. Oh such faith! Faith not only in Jesus as my Lord and Savior but also faith in El-Shaddai--"God Almighty." I am still coming to understand that the Lord was quite serious when He told the prophet Malachi:
"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,"
Says the LORD of hosts,
"If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it."
"Perfectly well" is such a vast understatement for all that the Lord has in store for us. Therefore, let us come to Him with higher expectations, with grand visions of His kingdom being loosed here on earth, with heartfelt desire for not just healing but for wholeness and holiness for ourselves and all mankind. If we believe in Jesus as the Son of God, then the Holy Spirit of God Himself is within us, standing with power and wisdom beyond our imagining to face the trials and troubles of our lives. Let us therefore seek not just the hem of Jesus' robe but grasp onto the nail-scarred hand of our Savior, and be healed and lifted into life more abundant than we ever have known.
Holy Father, Holy God, we too often forget that You are truly God, that You are Creator and Savior, Healer and Lord. We thank You, Father, that You are so much more than we could imagine, that You bring more than just physical healing. Heal us, save us, guide our hearts to Your holiness. We seek You, Lord God, and we wish for more than just to touch Your robe, but to touch Your hand and be lifted into the life You have promised. Amen.