In Matthew 9:20-22, a woman suffering from a hemorrhage for 12 years worked her way through a crowd, coming up behind Jesus. She reached out by faith, touching the fringe of His cloak, or the hem of His garment, and was instantly healed. The definition for the Greek word we interpret as “touch” is very similar to the definition for “paying attention” in 2 Peter 1:19. It is defined as “to attach oneself, to adhere to, to cling to, to touch.”
The fringe, or hem, is described as a margin, a tassel, a tuft. The Jews had such appendages attached to their mantles to remind them of the law. This is taken from God’s requirement for Israel in Numbers 15:37-41 which says, “The LORD also spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, in order that you may remember to do all My commandments, and be holy to your God. I am the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the LORD your God.’” They wore the tassels for a visual reminder to keep their eyes upon the Lord, keeping His commandments. Their blessing, and ours, was acquired through obedience to His law.
I see in this passage, and the preceding ones, the way of escape from the “bent over” condition in our lives caused by evil spirits that keep us from walking upright in righteousness. Hearing the summons of the Lord to draw near (Luke 13:12), in particular at the end of this age before He returns, we are to respond in faith by leaving the lowly place of bondage where we currently reside.
The Lord is beckoning His children to come join Him, escaping from the house of religious bondage and earthly entanglements that so many of us presently dwell in. In our striving by faith to touch Him like the woman with the hemorrhage, He will reach out and touch us, stopping the bleeding, so to speak.
The hem represents the commands of God, His truth that sets us free, releasing us from the bonds that keep us bent over, unable to walk an upright life. Jesus said in John 8:31-32 to some Jews who had believed him, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
To “hold” means “to remain, abide, to continue, to wait for; to stay in a given place, state, relation, or expectancy.” Abiding in Christ, waiting in obedience within the boundary of His commands, He will turn and touch us, setting us free from our bonds through His power. Adherence to truth, paying attention to what He commands by “doing,” draws His attention.
To touch the hem of His garment is to pursue Christ, looking for, and grasping firmly onto His tassels of truth. If He reveals that we have been believing a lie, we need to forsake it. Once our eyes have been opened to the truth that we are spiritually sick, we will have to get up and pursue Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life in order to be healed. We will need to leave the place we currently reside in, whether that be internal, external, or both, and wholeheartedly seek out the Truth, our Lord and Savior.
Falsehood has leavened the church in America, binding the majority of Christians. Having received lies as truth for years, most do not even realize they are sick and dying. It will have to get very uncomfortable in our present condition for most to confess they’ve been deceived and move out of their place of bondage. If we will look to Him, the Lord will mercifully help us through the difficult circumstances we are about to face.
It looked as though Jesus was going to pass this woman by, as if He never even noticed her. This caused her to get up and move out toward Him by faith. Verse 22 in Matthew 9 says that Jesus turned and said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” As the writer of Hebrews declares, God is truly a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
Matthew 14:35-36 says that when Jesus came to Gennesaret and the people recognized Him, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People then brought all their sick to him and begged Him to let them touch the hem of His garment. All who touched Him were healed. This is always the case for those who pursue His way, His truth, and His life.
Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:3-4, “If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing.” The Greek for “sound” is hugiaino [hoog-ee-ah’-ee-no]. It’s defined as “to have sound health, i.e. be well; figuratively, to be uncorrupt, true in doctrine.” Metaphorically speaking, it’s described as being used of Christians whose opinions are free from any mixture of error.
You can always tell if the words that are being said are true by the way the Body of Christ responds to them. If they are sound, wholesome, uncorrupt words, they will, when received, bring health and healing (i.e. reviving) to the church. They make us stronger, spiritually healthy.
The opposite is true of corrupt, unwholesome teachings. They will be obvious to us by the negative response (i.e. ungodliness) of the Body. It will make us spiritually sick and weak. This causes us to become very susceptible to further disease in our spirits, and possibly even death (1 Corinthians 11:30).
Paul’s warning in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 perfectly describes the spirit of our age. He said, “the time will come when they will not endure sound [our Greek word hugiaino] doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.”
To have an “itching ear” is to be desirous of hearing something pleasant. In our current spiritual state, many will not put up with hard preaching against sin and self-indulgence. That’s not the way you build a mega-church. Instead, you tell people what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. With the flattery of fools you make them feel good so they come back and bolster your numbers, as well as your offerings.
Paul exhorts the church again in Romans 16:17-18 to beware of those preaching unhealthy words of falsehood. He says to the Christians in Rome, “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” Their words are not healthy for the Body of Christ. Instead, they are filled with the serpent’s poison that has caused much damage to the church in America, as well as the rest of the world.