We’re going to take a journey.
Sit back. Relax. Settle into your pew.
Close your eyes. Keep them closed as I guide us in meditation. Now imagine.
You are in 1st Century Palestine. You are walking along a dirt road in Gennesaret in a crowd of people headed down to the sea of Galilee.
The road is rough. The dirt is kicked up and fills the air as the crowd makes it way through town. You can feel the dust collecting on your feet. You are trying hard to maintain your balance on the rocks.
Everyone is pushing against one another. There are hundreds if not thousands of people.
It’s a hot and humid day. The crowd’s odor is musty and foul.
Your cloak is hot and feels rough against your skin. It scratches you each time you bump into someone.
Your friends and family are somewhere in the crowd, but you’ve lost sight of them as lean in hard to try to get to the front of the pack.
All you can see is the people around you. You know you must be getting close to the sea, a breeze carrying the smell of the sea rolls over the mob. You can’t yet see the water.
You keep pushing forward. You’re getting closer to the front. You here shouting as people yell at one another to stop pushing and get out of the way.
You keep moving pushing through the crowd. You hear a shout from the front of the crowd. Someone has spotted Jesus’ boat on the water. The news fuels you to keep moving.
You desperately want to see Jesus. You are desperate like everyone else in the crowd. If only you can see him. He will heal you. You have been sick for years. You’ve heard about the others He has made well. All you need is a second of His time.
You’ve finally pushed to the front of the crowd. The force of the crowd is almost pushing you forward now. You can see His boat. You are overwhelmed with excitement. Your hope soars as you see Him and the Disciples sailing closer and closer to the shore.
Now, open your eyes.
Come back to the present day.
The first time someone led me on a guided meditation through Scripture I was surprised how real the text became in that moment. I could smell, feel, and hear everything as I imagined it happening. I could even feel what I thought the character was feeling.
That meditation was of the text describing the hemorrhaging woman. The scene is much like the one we just experienced. There was a crowd of people seeking Jesus and a character desperate for healing wanting to simply touch his cloak.
The story of the hemorrhaging woman is in the chapter just prior to our text today. Her story and stories like it must have reached the town of Genessaret for the people in Genessaret believed that they could be healed just by simply touching the fringe of Jesus’ cloak.
In Genessaret, there was an especially great need. The town was situated between Magdala and Capernaum on the sea of Galilee. It was known for numerous hot mineral springs. The chronically ill and injured had been attracted to these springs for centuries. Jesus and the Disciples must have known that they would encounter great need when they arrived upon shore.
Still, they went where they would meet the deepest neediness of humankind. People come rushing to meet them. They come themselves sick and injured. They come bringing friends who are sick and injured. They bring their pain, sorrow, sickness, disease, and brokenness. As much as that, they carry hope for healing and restoration.
Their “desperation overcomes order.” They weren’t lining up to be seen by the Great Healer. They were running ahead of others, pushing through crowds, coming from all sides just to touch Jesus’ cloak, shouting “BLESS ME.”
That scene is difficult to imagine in our modern day experience. We come to church file in and sit in rows of pews. Our worship is ordered that we know when to stand, when to bow our head, and when to sing. We know what to do when the plate of bread and tray of juice is passed. We know to put an offering in the next plate. We know how to be an ordered crowd before the Lord.
Do we know how to come to Christ with such desperation that we lose all decorum?
Do we know what it’s like to run after Jesus carrying as much pain as we do hope?
We come here for a reason. Yes, we come to praise Jesus and study God’s word. We also come with deep need. There are a lot of brave faces in the crowd. Beneath that façade is pain and illness. Even if we don’t tell others, despite our many blessings, we have need. We know our fears. We come together in a Christ-centered community to be relieved of the stress and strain of life even if for only a brief moment. We come here for a reason. We come to be blessed.
Can you imagine carrying your stuff to Jesus pushing your way through crowds to seize him, grab him by the arms, and demand, “Bless me?”
Instead of running through life, what would life be like if we were running down Jesus?
I firmly believe that the recent Dark Knight massacre would not have happened if the young man, instead of running into a crowded movie theater with his brokennes, rather had run to Jesus with hope of healing.