The Source of Healing
Physical difficulty is irritating, isn’t it? Whether some bone is broken or you just don’t feel well, when something’s wrong, it’s an irritant. So where do we go when something’s seriously wrong with our physical bodies?
One woman in Matthew 9 faced this question, and we’re given a story about her. She has some kind of physical ailment, and this problem has been going on quite a while—twelve years—so evidently she hasn’t been able to do anything about it. So, she has a brilliant idea: go to this Jesus person. At this point, Jesus has been healing quite a few people, so His fame is starting to spread. It appears this woman has heard of Him and believes that He can help her.
Look at how the woman is thinking: “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” (v21) She believes that all that’s required of her is to get near Jesus. Very close, sure, but it’d be enough to be around Him. Touch His clothes, that’s what it’ll take. If she does that, everything will be well, right? Mark and Luke both indicate that that’s how this encounter went.
But not so here. Matthew has a different objective in telling this story; he emphasizes something different. So this woman approaches Jesus from behind, evidently not being noticed by anyone there, and manages to lay a hand on His cloak. And this solves… nothing, actually. Nothing changes for her. She came to Jesus, thinking that getting around Him would be enough to change things and heal her, but that’s not the case.
So what? Was her effort all in vain? It doesn’t look like it. Jesus notices her and turns to her, declaring that she is now healed; suddenly, she is. See, this woman thought she could get close enough to Jesus for her to be healed while at the same time not having to interact with Him. This doesn’t work: her healing only came after direct contact with Jesus.
Then what does that mean for us? Well, where does our healing come from? If something’s wrong with our body, do we go and sit in the doctor’s office, or go see the doctor himself? Improvement only comes when we work with the person.
Thus it is spiritually. Do we gain spiritual healing, salvation, from coming to church? From spending time with other Christians, or from having a family that’s devoted? Don’t misunderstand me: these things are good. But if those things are all we’re relying on, isn’t that just trying to be around Jesus, without having a real connection to Him?
Matthew tries to remind us here that true healing comes from Jesus Himself, not from merely coming near to Him. We’re to go to Him directly, not just being “around” Him. Build a relationship, not just an acquaintance.