Reaching Out to Jesus

July 10, 2020

When Jesus and the disciples had crossed over the sea, they came to land at Gennesaret. After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. Matthew 14:34-36

The people of Gennesaret – a town on the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee recognized Jesus. His fame had spread by now as seen by the crowd of five thousand that he fed with five loaves and two fish. When the people saw him they knew him to be a healer from God. So they spread the word far and wide and before Jesus had time to settle in for a fish dinner, they surrounded him, pressing in on him. There were so many that Jesus could not meet each of the individuals in the crowd for a private healing, but the crowd did not get discouraged and fall away. Hands reached out from everywhere around him to touch him, even if they could only reach the tassels on his cloak. People reached from above and below. There were people laying on the ground as he passed by, stretching their arms as far as they could reach to touch the fringe: the lame, lepers, people with tumors, the blind, any sort of ailment you can imagine, they were there and they were determined, made bold by faith that this man could make them whole. Through their physical healing, God showed Jesus’ saving power.

As I read this passage again and envisioned how we reach out to touch the fringe of Jesus’ cloak, I thought of prayer. When we pray, it is like a reaching out to touch the hem of God’s robe, believing that in doing so God will restore us. Like the crowds though, we have to reach out in faith, even if just the size of a mustard seed, to be made whole by God’s grace.

But there is a problem here: why does it seem that some people’s prayers for healing are answered and some not? It certainly does not have to do with one having a stronger faith than another because there are people of deep faith that pray for physical healing whose prayers do not seem to be answered. I don’t have a satisfactory answer for why this is so and I bet you don’t either. But if you look at the original Greek language in which the New Testament was written, the word for “healed” in verse 36 means “to save thoroughly” or “to be made completely whole.” This is a healing which reaches down into the soul where it is most important that we be restored. When we reach out to touch the fringe of Jesus’ cloak in our prayers, this is the most important healing we can ask for, because in this restoration we truly have life. This is a healing that God always offers to us and one which gives us the strength to overcome any difficulties we may have.

Prayer: O God, whose grace always surrounds us, let us be as bold as the crowds and in faith reach out to touch your healing presence, so that our brokenness may be made whole through your saving power. Amen.

Provided by Rev. Susan Roddey, Director of Spiritual Life at Abernethy Laurels