“…and all who touched him were healed.” Matthew 14:36
There is a difference between seeing something and experiencing something.
We can see a mountain, or we can climb a mountain. Only by setting out on the trail will we find the beauty hidden deep in the forest or know the strength and determination it takes to climb.
We can see the ocean, or we stand in the ocean. Only by standing in the water will we feel the cool refreshment it offers or know the power of the rushing waves.
The difference between seeing and experiencing is the difference between almost living and living—the difference between wishing for joy and actually reaching for joy.
In the passage above from Matthew 14, Jesus has gone to Gennesaret. When the people hear He’s there, they come from all around, bringing their sick to Him for healing. They beg Him to just let the sick touch His cloak.
Scripture says, “all who touched him were healed.” Not all who came or all who saw or heard. Only those who reached out in faith and touched Jesus received His healing.
If all that needed was to reach out and touch Him, why weren’t they all healed? What held some back from this one simple life-changing act of faith?
They must have witnessed others being healed. What did they have to lose? What held them back?
Jesus tells us in Matthew 17:20, faith as small as a mustard is all it takes.
There is much seeing but not experiencing in our churches and our world today. We pray the prayer of salvation, read our bible, and partake in communion. We go to church, hear the sermon, and sing along with the songs. And when we don’t experience the healing we long for or a joy that surpasses understanding, we wonder what’s wrong with the church or Christianity or ourselves? Why aren’t we healed from our anxieties, our fears, our depression?
I came. Why don't I feel better?
We came to see, but not to experience.
A few years ago I went through a season of feeling as if I were in a dry place. I couldn’t seem to break free from it. During this time, God kept leading me the story of the woman with the bleeding disorder. She risked her life to go out in public and reach for Jesus.
To understand the level of desperation she felt, we have to understand that in those days her condition made her unclean. Anyone she came in contact with would likewise become unclean, a status that came with a lot of unpleasant restrictions and burdensome actions needed to restore their status as clean. Her presence in a crowd was a highly punishable offense.
But still she came.
Still she reached out.
Still she took hold in the faith that she might be healed by touching Jesus. The price she might pay was worth the restoration she might receive.
She knew it wasn’t enough to hear about Jesus or see Jesus.
“For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well” (Matthew 9:21).
And the amazing thing is, Jesus knew immediately.
“Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me” (Luke 7:46).
Her healing came through her faith as she reached out to touch Jesus, and through that one small touch, His power flowed into her weakness.
This message soaked into me with the gentle ease of a sledgehammer. What I was doing was watching Jesus from afar. Like a spectator in the bleachers, I knew the players and how to run the plays. I was cheering for “my team” and declaring my allegiance with a logo on my t-shirt, but I certainly wasn’t in the game. I wasn’t partaking in the life of Christ. I was just watching.
Watching wouldn’t heal what was missing in my life. I had to reach out and touch Jesus. And to touch Him, I had to go where He was.
I sought to walk in Jesus’ footsteps so closely that I could place my hand on His robe.
We can read God’s Word and memorize it like the words are a magic incantation that will heal us or fill us with peace and joy. But if the scriptures aren’t a doorway to us through which we enter a conversation with Jesus—a conversation meant to lead us to a deep, abiding relationship—then they are nothing more than ink on paper.
On a recent trip into the women’s prison for our ministry, I met a beautiful, sweet spirited lady who confessed she had been a skeptic. Her thoughts were “I didn’t actually see Jesus die on the cross for me. How should I know it really happened that He died for me?” But like the woman with the bleeding disorder, she came to place where she had nothing left to lose. One day she decided she might to surrender and see. Was it true and what could it change her life?
She found a forty-day devotional in the prison library and allowed herself to believe for the duration of those forty days. Of course, it didn’t take that long and she knew. She is now a faithful and outspoken believer who seeks to be a light to everyone around her. She reached out to touch Jesus and He took hold of her heart.
All it took was faith the size of a mustard seed, allowing herself to believe, reach out, and experience.
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7
If our lives seem empty or adrift; if we are hurt, confused, alone; if we are weary in sickness or grief; if there are unsettled longings in our hearts that know no relief, what is there is to lose by allowing ourselves to reach out and touch the hem of His robe?