• johned@aibi.ph

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Eternity 80 - The Hem Of His Garment

(Matthew 14:34-36 NKJV) 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.

(Matthew 9:20-22 NKJV) And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. {21} For she said to herself, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well." {22} But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well." And the woman was made well from that hour.

(Acts 19:11-12 NKJV) Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, {12} so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.

(Acts 5:15-16 NKJV) so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. {16} Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

This is a world-view changing passage for us Westerners. How can the hem of anyone's garment make someone well? How can power flow from cloth? How can a shadow do any good?

The first Christians believed that the slightest touch of something that belonged to Jesus or the apostles would heal them! And - what is "worse" (from the rationalistic point of view) is that it worked! "As many as touched it were made well"..."and they all were healed".

The cloths and shadows and handkerchiefs and robes brought true healing to those who touched them. Not just those who believed in them either - though faith was important (behold your faith has made you well). Somehow the touching of the item took the faith and made it real and active and it went from notion or emotion into action. Actually, theologically it was not very "satisfactory" faith because it seems to have been quite superstitious.

But nonetheless it worked, not just because they had so much faith (in a psycho-somatic fashion) but because Jesus, Peter and Paul were truly anointed and holy. They were spiritual powerhouses. From them flowed healing and grace and deliverance.

What does the "hem of His garment' signify? It signifies making even the slightest connection with Jesus. The men of Gennesaret stand there,and across the way is the holy man, anointed, powerful radiant with God. They know that He has what they need, and they puzzle on how to get "it". How can they connect? How can they make the healing power flow into their sick, their demonised, their hurting folk?

Somehow they came up with a solution - a spiritual technology to connect with Jesus "and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment". They knew they were Gentiles, unclean, unworthy, perhaps relatives of Legion the demoniac who Jesus had healed earlier. They were not worthy of an embrace or a word but they needed what He had so they bowed down low to His feet and touched the hem of His garment - and were healed.

The woman with the issue of blood seems to have thought the same - unworthy, unclean, but needing Jesus. The hem of his garment is where the humblest, most unclean, most alienated people can fall at the feet of Jesus and make the connection they need to be instantly and perfectly well.

"Making the connection" also seems to be the thinking behind the handkerchiefs of Paul and the shadow of Peter. The slightest connection with the apostle was enough, they didn't want to bother him, they just desperately wanted healing.

Just pass by, just let your shadow fall, any connection at all, anything so the power can pass and we can be healed!

Sometimes the connection can heal even in the complete absence of faith. "(2 Kings 13:21 NKJV) So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet." The friends were not asking for a resurrection or thinking anything "religious". It was a self-preserving act of expediency - but it made the connection and the man came back from the dead.

This is weird, I admit that. But it is still there in the Bible and in more than one place. We have to take it literally and take it seriously. There is an awesome power in connecting with holiness.

Should we then preserve relics of the saints? Should we establish a whole spiritual technology of handkerchiefs and old bones and grails? For many reasons this is an inferior form of faith, its not encouraged in Scripture - only commented on. For a full exposition of why we don't want to go down this track go to my ebook Temples and Tithes and read the chapter "The Stoichea" which explains why we are no longer in the realm of superstitions and special diets and holy days and festivals etc (http://www.aibi.ph/tt/).

That said, we should still make it a life principle to seek to "connect with the holy" whenever possible. We should seek to dwell among holy things and be around holy people and to live holy lives and pray holiness into our bones so we lead God-saturated lives.

To connect with holiness is to be healed and made whole. In the opposite extreme - to connect with worldliness is to be dis-integrated. As David says (Psalms 84:10 NIV) Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

John Edmiston
Asian Internet Bible Institute


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