On the Way
On the Way
Words of Faith 6-13-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him.  Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus' feet, pleading with him to come to his house  because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him.  And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.  She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
 "Who touched me?" Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you."
 But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me."
 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.  Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."
A funny thing happened on the way to the healing; someone got healed! Jesus was on His way to a miracle at the home of Jairus, and actually missed the timing for that miracle or so it seemed, when something else happened. Sometimes the wonders of God are not at the end of the journey so much as they are on the way.
Luke tells us that Jesus was being nearly crushed by the crowd eager to follow and see how Jesus would heal the daughter of Jairus. A cultural peculiarity in the Middle East is that of crowds that crush. This tendency to crowd and crush can turn tragic as we have seen in recent news accounts from Saudi Arabia. This was the sort of scene that surrounded Jesus, a crushing crowd.
In that crowd there was a woman who had been sick for a long time. We really don't know the details of her affliction except that she had been bleeding for twelve years. She may have had cancer but more likely she had any of a number of problems curable today. We do know three things This malady surely made her weak, miserable, and spiritually estranged from family and community. According to the Law, she was separated from any sense of being right with God because her condition rendered her ceremonially unclean. Imagine being sick and miserable and also unable to attend church or seek any support from Christian friends.
Some manuscripts also mention (as does Mark's Gospel) that she had "suffered under many doctors" and had spent all she had. She was apparently also in a financial crisis. The problem was certainly not that she did not desire to be whole! She had done everything she knew to do! The effects had been devastating to her life.
This woman heard that Jesus was coming. The rumors were that He could heal and many were saying that He might very well be the Messiah. Weak as she was she pressed her way through a crushing crowd hoping to touch just the tassel of his robe.
Matthew's gospel gives us an important insight. He records that she said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed" (9:21). Matthew apparently interviewed the woman later or perhaps this detail of her thoughts was made evident by the Holy Spirit. Matthew was certain to include this detail because he was an orthodox Jew and was writing to Jewish listeners. This was a very important detail.
The English word "hem" or "edge" is a translation of a Greek word meaning a tassel of twisted wool. The woman was, in fact, reaching for the tassels on Jesus prayer shawl. In Hebrew, these tassels, which are attached to the corners of the prayer shawl, are called tzitzit. They were, and still are, worn by observant Jews as a reminder of the 613 commandments in the Torah (Numbers 15:37-41, Deuteronomy 22:12).
In Numbers 15:38 the word translated "border" or "corner" is a Hebrew word which can also be translated "wings". For this reason, the corners of the prayer shawl were often called wings. Descriptions of orthodox men spoke of them walking with their "wings". Each tzitzit consists of five double knots and eight threads, a total of thirteen elements. This number added to six hundred, the Hebraic numerical value of the word tzitzit points to the six hundred and thirteen commandments of the Torah.
During the first century there were several traditions associated with the tzitzit concerning Messiah. One was that these knotted fringes possessed healing powers. This tradition has its roots in the prophecy of Malachi 4:2 where the Messiah is said to be coming "with healing in His wings".
Now this whole scene makes much more sense. Certainly the woman with the issue of blood knew of these traditions, which would explain why she sought to touch the corner (the wings) of Jesus' prayer garment. It also makes sense why she was instantly healed. She was expressing her faith in Jesus as the Son of Righteousness with healing in His wings and declaring her faith in God's prophecy regarding the coming of Messiah.
It was with this same understanding that an ancient Jew under the prayer shawl could be said to be dwelling in the secret place of the Most High and under His wings. As the Psalmist writes:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:1-4
When we meet Jesus, it is often when we are weary and drained. We come to Him fully spent from our own efforts to find hope and healing and even after having suffered under many doctors. How wonderful to simply touch a thread of His cloak and find healing in His wings and even more to find the safe place to rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Lord Jesus, I reach out to touch the thread of Your wings. Heal me even in ways that I could not know. I find my refuge only in You and under Your wings. In Jesus' name.