Talking about good news today. Specifically the Good News of Jesus Christ, which is really just about the best news there’s ever been.
This is the end of the sixth chapter of Mark. This chapter is loaded with action from the life of Jesus. It begins with Jesus being rejected at Nazareth, then he sends out the twelve apostles. John the Baptist dies, he feeds the 5000, and walks on water. It’s no wonder we miss this gem which almost thrown in at the end of the chapter.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. One thing we can see for sure, Jesus was not doing his work anonymously. People were talking. These people in Gennesaret, in Galilee of the Gentiles, knew who Jesus was. It says they immediately (that key word for Mark’s gospel) recognized him and ran through their region bring all their tired, their sick, their poor in spirit to Him, wherever they heard he was. If he left one place and went to another, they would find him.
And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well. It didn’t matter where Jesus was, gentile marketplaces or Jewish marketplaces, they found him and desperately brought their sick to him. And all they had to do was touch the fringe of his garment to be made well. I told you this was Good News! I mean, read this again!! All they had to do was touch the fringe of his garment and they would be made better. That’s it. I don’t know why these people were doing what they did, maybe they had heard of the woman who had been bleeding for twenty years who got well just by touching his garment. But they brought their sick to Jesus, touched just the fringe of his garment, and were made well.
Jesus had healing power just radiating from him. It was (and is) just a part of who He is. It’s in His very nature. And remember, God is like Jesus. Jesus is the exact ikon of God, no one has ever seen the father except his only begotten son who has made him known.
These people in Genneserat were both Jews and Gentiles. Galilee is not like Judea, where the only gentiles are the occupying Roman forces. Here, there is much more acceptance and mixing of the Jews and the gentiles. Living in such close proximity they’ve gotten to know each other a bit. Jesus is not taking his ministry to the gentiles, that would come later with Peter and Paul. But neither does he purposefully and systematically avoid them like the Pharisees, for fear of being made “unclean”. Jesus never avoided those people on the “fringe” of society, those people whom the people of Yahweh would have nothing to do with for fear of being made “unclean”.
So while Jesus is not here specifically to minister to the Gentiles, he does not avoid contact with them either. They brought their sick from all around, and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well. Look at what is happening here. They don’t ask Jesus to pray with them. They don’t ask Jesus to heal them. They don’t ask Jesus to lay hands in them, or touch them. They really don’t even ask for Jesus to even acknowledge them in any way. They just want to touch the fringe of his garment. And just by touching the fringe of his garment, as many as touched it were made well.
These people in Gennesaret were considered to be on the fringe by those in good, religious society. They were Gentiles, not part of “the elect”. Yet these people on the fringe could touch just the fringe of Jesus’ garment and be healed. Yes, they did have faith, enough faith to be drawn near to Him. But they didn’t have to follow a plan of salvation. They didn’t have to say a sinners prayer. They weren’t asked to accept Jesus into their hearts. They weren’t baptized. They didn’t have to make their case for being worthy, didn’t have to take a six week course, sign any papers, take any oaths, or publicly repent of their sins. Jesus doesn’t heal them with the promise or requirement that they might accept him as their Messiah. There is no bait and switch here. Jesus doesn’t heal them so that they might become his followers. He just healed them. They had no, nor promised to make any particular allegiance to Jesus. Yet the Kingdom of God was among them and available to them just by His presence.
People on the “fringe” were made better simply by drawing near and touching the fringe of Jesus garments. And two thousand years later, based on his having passed through our midst, it is like we are still touching the fringe of Jesus garments. People on the fringe, people for whom going to church or submission to Christ are on their list of things not to do, can still receive the benefits of Jesus just because He passes near and they are somehow able to just brush up against Him. After all, the body of Christ is still present, isn’t it? Aren’t we as his church, his people, now the body of Christ?
I guess the question is, is there enough Christ in us that people can be healed simply by drawing near to us? Do we have healing power radiating from us? Or is the power within his church these days more like static electricity, that anyone who happens to brush against it might receive a quick little shock to remind them not to come too close??
I say, we still have the power of healing within us. It still radiates from Christ through the church. His church is always one generation away from dying out, yet 80 generations later, here we are, radiating healing and forgiveness into a world that desperately needs it.
And if his church is not radiating that healing, I know a place that is. It’s the holy-of-holies of the New Covenant, inaugurated by Christ himself the night before he was crucified. There once was a time when only one man, the high priest, could go into the holy-of-holies, once a year. He was not allowed in without having a rope tied to his ankles, lest God should strike him dead while he was in there and there was no way to get his dead body out. But we have a new holy-of-holies, his communion table, that still radiates healing. And nobody, no matter how bad the sin, is struck dead for coming near. It is inclusive, all are invited, never exclusive. Because Jesus is still the friend of sinners.
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”” Luke 22:19 ESV
“When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.”
Mark 6:53-56 ESV