by Michael E. Brooks
“Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, ‘If only I may touch his clothes, I shall be made well.’ Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that power had gone out of him, turned around in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ But his disciples said to him, ‘You see the multitude thronging you, and you say, “Who touched Me?”‘” (Mark 5:25-31).
I can sympathize with the disciples. Recently I went to the “evening market” in Khulna, where they sell fish, chickens, vegetables and other items only in the evening hours. It was packed and maneuvering around and through the crowds was a challenge.
Among other concerns was the need to watch for slippery and uneven footing, to avoid becoming soiled by the wet smelly fish many were carrying, to watch out for pickpockets, and to escape from being pushed into a fall or a confrontation. A slight brush against one’s sleeve or loose clothing was hardly noticeable.
I can well imagine the disciples’ disbelief when Jesus, in the midst of such congestion, expected to identify every chance touch. Yet he, aware of all things, was extremely sensitive to the need expressed by the sick woman. She was frightened by his attention, but he quickly eased her fear and guaranteed her relief.
The sense of touch may not be commonly valued as highly as sight or hearing, yet it may be extremely sensitive and varied. It will register a mere suggestion of a puff of air or a mortal blow. Touch regulates our comfort, identifies our location, guides our direction, and gives comfort and encouragement.
John cites the sense of touch as among the evidences supporting our faith (1 John 1:1). Thomas demanded the right to touch the scars of crucifixion before committing to belief in the resurrection (John 20:25).
We also use this in a figurative sense, as in “I was touched by the kind words you said to me.” Any impact upon our lives, whether physical or emotional, is registered as a touch. It is in this way that all may feel the gracious and gentle hand of Jesus today.
We are not privileged to live in the presence of the incarnate body of Christ. Yet we certainly can know him and be with him and be touched by him. He promised, “And, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
And again, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
Just as Jesus touched the eyes of the blind (John 9:6), the ears of the deaf (Mark 7:33) and the sores of the leper (Luke 5:13) healing them, so he touches our sin-sickened lives today and gives us hope and peace (Titus 2:11-14).
Jesus’ touch continues to heal, to comfort and to compel his followers to faithful service (2 Corinthians 5:14). That touch comes to us through his sacrifice on the cross, through his infinite love, and by our obedient trust in him. Just as with the woman who had the issue of blood, his touch is sufficient to meet all of our needs, and give us life.