Numbers 15:38-39a – Speak to the Israelites and say to them: "Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord." (NIV)
Matthew 9:20-21 – And behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: for she said within herself, if I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. (KJV)
It has been the subject of beautiful songs, inspirational art and fascinating sermons. But it was not until I heard this story in its original Jewish context that my eyes were opened to a richer, more powerful understanding of Jesus' healing ministry. Seeing this narrative through an historical perspective has helped me appreciate the deeper, more profound significance of the event described in Matthew's gospel.
This fabric called the hem is known in Hebrew as a "tzit zit" and was made according to a specific pattern. One reference to this unique piece of clothing is found in Numbers 15:38, today's first scripture quotation. Clearly, Jesus' garment with its hem and tassels was highly symbolic. It represented the holiness of Jehovah and was worn as a daily reminder for God's people to obey His commandments.
In accordance with strict Mosaic Law, the woman with the issue of blood would have been considered unclean. But amazingly, in a state of ritual impurity, she had the courage to reach out and take hold of the holiest part of Jesus' garment. No wonder the woman is portrayed as fearful when Jesus asked, "Who touched my clothes?" (Mark 5:30b KJV)
Nevertheless, not only was the woman healed physically, but the word of God states she was made whole in every aspect of her being. What an amazing example of God's grace! Is there anything keeping us away from the love of Christ? Has guilt or shame made us fearful to reach out in faith and touch the Master's garment?
Be assured we can take courage and allow Jesus to cleanse our hearts, heal our diseases, and make us whole.
Prayer: Lord, according to Your will, set us free from the guilt of sin and pain. Cleanse our hearts, heal our bodies, and make us whole. Thank You for the love that makes Yours a soul-saving and life-sustaining power. Give us the courage to reach out to You in faith and the ability to keep Your Word. In Jesus' precious name, we pray. Amen.