Reading: Mark 6:56
What a wonderful day that must have been for them all!
Christ and His disciples had recently returned from a time of ministry in some desert place across the lake. There our Lord had taught many things to many people, and afterwards had fed the multitude with a few loaves and fishes. He had then withdrawn Himself, and gone up into a mountain to pray. The return-crossing for the disciples had been difficult and dangerous, but the Lord, seeing them battling against the storm, had come to them walking on the sea, and even the wind had ceased. Now, very tired and weary, perhaps, they were safely back in Gennesaret, and longing for a time of respite.
But that was not to be, for the people on the shore quickly recognised Christ, and very soon, that whole region also, became active and alive. Those who had sick friends or relatives hurried off to fetch them, and to bring them to Christ for healing. Wherever our Lord moved, they did the same; be it village, or city, or the country areas. And we are told, “ As many as touched Him were made whole” (Mark 6:56).
This amazing record is further authenticated in Matthew and Luke, and it is full of helpfulness for us. It certainly shows us the incomparable greatness of Christ, and we are left worshipping. The verse that we are here emphasizing, however, goes further, and shows us what is the essential condition for experiencing Christ’s saving power: we must touch Him!
It is true that, on other occasions, people got blessing without touching Christ in a physical sense, but, in other ways, deeper ways, they were still touching Him. They were putting their faith in Him, their heart’s deep trust, and that touch of faith is the greatest touch of all! We dare to say that, without that touch, our spiritual and inmost needs can never be met. That is the teaching of the Bible; that is the Christian Gospel; one way or the other, we must touch Him.
This, we are burdened to say, is a principle important to us all, and we feel sure it throws much light on the problem of so much sorrow and breakdown which is all around us, even in so-called Christian circles. We all have to ask ourselves: “What have we done with Jesus?” Have we touched Him Himself?
Perhaps we may point out here that, in the preceding chapter (Mark 5), we find a beautiful example of what we have been saying. It was at a time when great multitudes were around our Lord. We are told that they were thronging Him” (verses 24 and 31), but, amongst them all, was one needy woman who touched Him. Being of a somewhat nervous disposition, and not wanting everyone to know about her particular problem, she worked her way in from the back of the crowd, saying to herself , “If I may touch but His clothes, I shall be whole” (verse 28). She then reached out her hand from behind Him, and touched His garment (verse 27), and was instantly healed within; and she knew it (verse 29). The Lord also knew that some virtue had flowed out from Him, and He said: “Who touched Me?” The end of the story is that the woman herself “fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth” (verse 33).
We do well to note that there are two outstanding words in that story. The first is ‘throng’, “the people thronged Him”(verse 24 and 31), and the other is ‘touch’, “she touched Him”(verses 27, 28, 30 and 31). Those words, we would say, speak volumes to us. Even today, great multitudes throng Christ;-that is, they have some kind of association with Him, or with His things. The word could be applied to that nominal and formal ‘Christendom’ which can be found everywhere; but our Lord still asks the question, “Who touched Me?” Praise God, there are some who have pressed through that throng, and have, by a true personal faith, touched Christ Himself, and have found their needs met. Like that woman of old, they have, somewhere, somehow, heard of Jesus (verse 27) (that, really, is where it all begins); and, hearing of Him, and knowing only too well, their own deep personal need, they have pressed through and touched Him. Saving power has poured out from Him, and into them, and they have found themselves new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). In the fullest meaning of the word, they have been made whole. That is the unique power of the Christian Gospel. But souls must touch Him, Himself!
We would add one word in closing, and we would direct it to Christian workers. If people are to touch the Lord Himself, they must have the Lord Himself set before them. They must be made to see that He is a real living Person; alive today, and mighty to save today!
Those who were the first leaders in God’s church always made that point very clear. The great apostle Paul told the Ephesians that his commission was to “preach among the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 2:8). To the Galatians, he wrote that God had revealed Christ to him so that he could preach Him among the nations (see Gal. 1:15,16). That, certainly, is what those early apostles and evangelists were doing right from the day of Pentecost onwards. Every day and everywhere they were lifting up a living Person, Whom they knew and Whom they themselves loved. They spoke of Him: crucified, raised, and highly exalted, merciful and gracious, and mighty to save. According to the early chapters of Acts, it is clear that the living King of Glory was their whole repertoire, and the whole history was well summed-up by Luke when he said, “And daily, in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42). They all knew that their appointed task was not fulfilled until Christ was placed, firmly and strongly, right in front of their hearers. By God’s own anointing, they were enabled to present their own dear Saviour before all who heard them, so that anyone could reach out the hand of faith and touch Him.
We therefore say to ourselves, and to all our brethren in the ministry, our Gospel is the Gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16). And if we are not setting Him before the consciences of men, we are failing in our task. We tremble to say it, but we fear that many of us are only projecting ourselves before our hearers. It seems we only want them to know about our cleverness, our understanding of theology, or our knowledge of the Bible. We need to see that this is not only foolish, it is very sinful! Instead of giving hungry people Bread, we are giving them a stone; indeed, we are offering them a serpent (Matt. 7:9,10). It is perhaps the ultimate sin; it is an attempt to supplant the Saviour by our sinful selves! May God forgive us if we have been doing this, and, while we are in the dust, may He show us at last, His Christ, so that we ourselves may touch Him and be made whole.
O sinners, touch Him.
O preachers, preach Him.
O Christ, in matchless mercy, heal me now!