Additional Thoughts: Mark 5:21-43

 This Week’s Message

In this week’s message on Mark 5:21-43, we encountered two who needed a healing touch from Jesus. If you missed the sermon, you can find it here. Scholars debate whether these two demonstrated much faith by going to Jesus or little faith by believing that He had to physically touch the ill in order to heal them. I refuse to make such a judgment about the faith of others, knowing that my own faith is often weak. It is enough to say that both Jairus and this unnamed woman had the faith to seek Jesus to meet their needs.

 Touching His Garment

Note that the unnamed woman with an issue of blood for twelve years said, “If I touch even his garments, I’ll be made well.” (5:28, ESV). She was, in fact, healed immediately upon touching his garments. So, was the healing power in Christ’s garment? Seventeenth-century priest Cornelius a Lapide asserted, “There is here an example and proof of the use and efficacy of holy relics. For of such a nature was the hem or fringe of Christ which healed her that had the issue of blood.” Some might also use the case of Acts 19:12 where people were healed by cloths that had touched Apostle Paul’s skin. We cannot ignore, however, that the first part of the sentence, in verse 11, reminds us that “God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul’s hands.” Was the power in Paul’s hands, or cloths that he had touched?

 Where is the Power?

We cannot assert that these cloths, or Jesus’ clothing, held some mystical healing power outside of God’s control. Mark reminds us that when the woman touched Jesus, He felt the power leave Him. The healing was not in his robe, but in Christ Himself. The same with Paul’s discarded handkerchiefs: the power was God’s all along. If the woman did not know that the power was in Jesus instead of His clothing, she certainly figured it out when He confronted her.

Avoiding Idolatry

We have to take care that objects and people God uses for His purpose do not become idols. Numbers 21 tells of a time when the Israelites were grumbling on their journey. God sent poisonous snakes into their camp. He commanded Moses to make a bronze serpent affixed to a pole. When a person was bitten, he/she could look at the serpent to avoid death. By the time of King Hezekiah, in 2 Kings 18, this serpent had to be destroyed. People were worshiping it instead of God. Something that had been preserved as a reminder of God’s providence impeded worship of Him. 

We must be careful that objects that are meant to help our worship of God do not become objects that we worship instead of God. Things like our church buildings, worship music, Bible translations, favorite devotionals, and even preachers can either point us to God or distract us from Him. The power is not in our objects; the power is in Christ. We do well to remember that.