The Hem of His Garment
December 9th, 1990 @ 10:50 AM
THE HEM OF HIS GARMENT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-9-90 10:50 a.m.
And we welcome the uncounted throngs of you who share this hour with us. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled, The Hem of His Garment. In our preaching through the Book of Mark, we are in chapter 5, and we come toward the close of the chapter. Beginning at verse 25, Mark 5:25:
And a certain woman, who had an issue of blood twelve years,
had suffered many things of many physicians, spent all that she had, was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.
When she heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched His garment.
For she said, If I may touch—
and Matthew writes it, “but the hem of His garment” [Matthew 9:21]—
If I may but touch His clothes, I shall be whole.
And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; she felt in her body that she was healed. . .
Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that virtue had gone out of Him, turned Him about. . .and said, Who touched Me?
And He looked round about to see her that had done this thing. And the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth [Mark 5:32-33]. “And He said unto her, Daughter”—the only time in this recorded Bible here that He uses that word ‘daughter’—“Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague” [Mark 5:33-34].
One of the most beautiful miracles in the Bible—He was thronged in Capernaum. He was there because He had been invited by the people of Decapolis and Gadara and Gerasa to leave their country on account of the pigs and the hogs and the swine that they had lost. They would rather have pigs than to have Jesus. So they invited Him to leave [Mark 5:6-17]. And Jesus comes to the other side of the sea and back to Capernaum. The Bible is very emphatic here, “much people” [Mark 5:21]. And then again in verse 24, “Much people thronged Him” [Mark 5:34].
As He was on His way to the house of Jairus—a leader of the Jews whose twelve-year-old daughter was sick and later died [Mark 5:23, 35, 42]—as He made His way to the home of Jairus, He was pressed and thronged on every side [Mark 5:22-24]. There were two kinds of people around Him. One, there were those who, out of loving gratitude for what He had done for them, were there to see Him and welcome Him. These are the demoniacs. Here are the paralytics. Here are those that were sick in bed. These are they that He had raised up to health and life, and they were there in loving gratitude pressing the Lord on every side [Mark 5:21, 24].
Then again, there were those who came out of trembling hope, these who were sick and had inward and secret pain. They came because the Lord was close by. I want you to see that. You walk through a town, or drive through a town, and everything seems so well and strong. What you don’t see are all of those hidden heartaches. They are everywhere—the sick, the aged, the discouraged, the depressed. You go through the town and it looks so well and strong. Actually, there is uncounted agonies and heartaches and hurts. And you don’t see them.
But wherever Jesus appeared, suffering came to the surface. And these that had lost hope, and in despondency and despair, found in Him a promise and a light. So, when He came, anyplace, He was thronged on every side.
Have you ever been in Broadway, New York City? Those thousands of lights and everything seems so brilliant and full of entertainment. Yet, they say, there is a broken heart for every light that you see. That is life. You have heard me say in this pulpit that pain and heartache brings us to God. And I have also said if there were no suffering and no hurt in the world, the world would forget God altogether.
So back there in Capernaum, He is thronged on every side by a great press of people [Mark 5:24]. And among them was this poor woman with an issue of blood twelve years [Mark 5:25]. I cannot imagine that. I can’t think of it. What is her name? Nobody knows. What is her status in life? Nothing is said. She just belongs to that vast throng of unnamed, unknown people.
God looks down upon us and He Himself can see that heartache, and suffering, and disappointment, and trouble, and trial are no respecter of persons. [It’s] everywhere. And this poor, pallid, wasting creature with that secret disease is one of them. I have often wondered if she were a Gentile. The reason I think it is, if you read the fifteenth chapter of Leviticus, there is a long, long, long commandment concerning the uncleanness of a woman who is menstruating—in her period [Leviticus 15:18-30].
It’s a long discussion. Everything she touched was unclean. If you touched her, you were unclean. If you touched anything she touched, you were unclean. If you read the Book of Lamentations, Jeremiah weeps and cries over Jerusalem because she is as a woman with her skirts unclean, with an issue of blood [Lamentations 1:9]. And I have wondered if that woman was a Gentile [Mark 5:25]. Had she been Jewish, every one of that throng that she touched would have been unclean [Leviticus 15:19].
She had heard about the Lord Jesus. It says here in Luke that He healed the people of their diseases [Luke 4:40]. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him. And there went virtue out of Him and He healed them all [Luke 6:19]. I presume she had heard about the Lord Jesus and, in her heart, said to herself, “If I could just touch Him, I would be healed. I would be well. I would be whole again” [Mark 5:28].
Isn’t that a beautiful something to say to yourself? Talking to herself, talk to others, yes, but mostly we need to talk to ourselves. It says here that she had spent all that she possessed on—plural—physicians and others, and was not healed. She was not better; she was worse [Mark 5:26].
Do you ever think about the people in their heartaches, and in their trials, and in their sorrows, and in their difficulties, and sadnesses of life? What do they do? The great majority of humanity seeks to find an answer in some other place than God. They go to the picture show to drown their sorrows, or to some entertainment in order to escape their despondency. Some of them use the flowing cup. As a man said when he was asked in London why he drank so much, he said, “It’s the shortest way out of London.” They go to everybody and everything, trying to escape the pressures and the sorrows of life.
One of the most famous stories that I know of concerns Joseph Grimaldi. Grimaldi was in London. He was a world famous comedian. He was the son—Grimaldi, an Italian name—he was a son of an Italian actor—I suppose, the greatest comedian who ever lived. There was a man who had come to a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a man who can heal us of our distresses and oppressions and disappointments. And after this man had described to him the oppression and depression of his life, why, the doctor to whom he was speaking said, “What you need to do is to go to a show, like Grimaldi. And that will lift you up, and that will make you forget your sorrows and your disappointments. You go hear the great comedian, Grimaldi.” And the man replied, “But you don’t understand. I am Grimaldi.”
These things like drinking and all of the entertainment of the world are so ephemeral and peripheral. What we need is God. And this poor woman, emaciated with a wasting disease, said in her heart, “If I could just touch Him. If I could just touch Him, I would be healed” [Mark 5:27-28].
You know, I can imagine as she pressed her way through the throng to come to Jesus—I can imagine a man angry at her boldness. And he looks at her, her pallid face, her wasted form, her thin and emaciated figure and he opens the way. And she comes to the Lord. How humbly and sweetly and preciously—she doesn’t come in front of Him, to face Him, to look at Him. She doesn’t dare touch His face or His hand. She comes behind Him, and she reaches forth her hand with a sob, and with a prayer, and touches the hem of His garment [Matthew 9:20-21; Mark 5:27-28].
When you read the law, you read that the teacher was to wear a blue fringe around his garment [Numbers 15:37-41]. And she reached forth her hand and touched that blue fringe. And, immediately, she felt the course of a new life in her body [Matthew 9:22; Mark 5:29]. She was made whole and well—completely, immediately, freely of the love and grace of God—whole again. I want you to look at the divine sensitiveness. Thronged on every side [Mark 5:24], Jesus alone was cognizant of her—He alone. Nobody knew, or guessed, or saw, or paid attention. But He did; the Lord did. And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” [Mark 5:30-31].
Simon Peter and the apostles with Him, looked at the Lord Jesus in that question and said, “You must have lost Your equilibrium. You have lost Your balance. You are thronged and pressed on every side, and yet You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” [Luke 8:45].
But the Lord said, “But someone touched Me; someone touched Me” [Luke 8:46].
Sweet people, it is possible to come close to the Lord Jesus and receive no blessing at all—none at all; come to church and never find Christ; look at the cross and never find salvation; even hear the Word of God, and there is no perception; close to Jesus, and no blessing. How wonderful it is to be like that poor, miserable woman in faith, in love, looking to our Lord [Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:27-28].
Like the Bible says, “He that hath eyes to see, let him see” [Mark 8:18]. And the heavens are filled with the hosts of the angels of God and the chariots of fire around the throne of the Almighty [2 Kings 6:17]. “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” [Mark 4:9, 23], the voice of God speaking in every tongue and language. And he that hath fingers to touch, let him touch. He is not moved by our eloquence. And He doesn’t cast us out because we are not bold. Just touch and we are healed.
I want you to look at another thing. “And Jesus, knowing within Himself that virtue”—virtue—“had gone out of Him” [Mark 5:30]. The Greek word is dunamis. Strength, power, life had gone out of Him. That is such a different thing from what we suppose. I suppose it would be universal to think that the Lord healed with just a wave of His hand, with just a pronunciation of a mere word. He just did it.
The Bible says such an opposite. In Matthew 8, “He healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” [Matthew 8:16-17; Isaiah 53:4]. He substituted His life and His strength for us [1 Corinthians 15:3]. He bore our sicknesses and He took our infirmities [Matthew 8:17]. It cost Jesus—the healings, the miracles of life and hope and salvation. I think the cross is a miracle of how Jesus poured His life for us [Matthew 27:32-50]. He was our great Substitute [1 Corinthians 15:3]. He died in our stead [2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24]. And I think all of His miracles of healing were, and are, just like that. He takes our infirmities, and He bears our illnesses [Matthew 8:16-17].
The pastor was asked to go to the hospital to see a teenager who was dying. And when the pastor entered the room, the lad was under an oxygen tent. He asked the nurse if he could speak to the boy. And the nurse in permission gave the pastor the privilege to put his head under the oxygen tent to talk to the boy. And the pastor, talking to the boy, showed him how to be saved, how to enter heaven when you die—just trusting the Lord as your Savior [Acts 16:31].
And the lad looked up into the pastor’s face and said, “Pastor, is it that easy? Is it that easy?”
And the pastor said, “Son, easy for you, but not for Him—not for Him.” “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our illnesses” [Matthew 8:16-17].
“I perceive virtue has gone out of Me” [Luke 8:46]. It cost Jesus the life and the blood of the Lord, thus to be our Savior and our Healer [Isaiah 53:5]. Bless His name forever.
May I speak now of the open confession of this dear woman? The story starts off like that. She came. She came [Mark 5:27]. It has to begin with a resolution in the heart, “I am going to God.” Then the story ends like that. She came and fell down before Him, and told all that had happened to her [Mark 5:33].
That is the way we come to God. First, in a resolution in the heart, “I am going to the Savior.” And it ends like that: a confession, open, and unashamed of what God has done for us. In that way, she was doubly blessed. Not only was she healed of the issue of blood in her physical frame, but she was healed in her heart. She was filled with the love and grace of the Lord Jesus and went away twice blessed with new life and health and with salvation of heart and soul [Mark 5:25-34]—the open confession of what Jesus has done for us [Romans 10:9-10].
I close now. Where is the hem of our Lord today? If I but touch the hem of His garment, I will be saved; I will be whole [Matthew 9:20-21: Mark 5:27-28 ]. Where is the hem of His garment today? Everywhere, above us, below us, and around us. These are the great manifestations of the presence of God. They are everywhere.
A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite tender sky,
The rich, ripe tint of the corn fields,
And the wild geese sailing high.
And all over upland and lowland,
The charm of the golden rod.
Some people say, “This is winter,”
But some of us say “This is God.”
A picket, frozen on duty,
A mother starved for her brood,
Socrates drinking the hemlock,
And Jesus on the rood.
And millions who, humble and precious,
The straight, hard pathway plod.
Some of us say, “That’s consecration,”
But some of us say, “That’s God.”
[“Evolution,” by William Herbert Carruth]
To those who have eyes to see, the hem of His garment is everywhere. It is in a grain of sand. Where did it come from? Who created it? God is in that grain of sand. A beautiful rose—who could improve on its beauty? God did it. The life of a baby; where did such a life come from? The omnipotent hands of God created the child and breathed into its heart the breath of life; the hem of His garment, the presence of God.
In the services of church, Jesus is here. He is in the songs. He is in the prayers. He is in the expounding of the Holy Scriptures. He is in the hymn of invitation. The hem of His garment—we can touch it here. And it is close by the bedside in the hour of our death—the hem of His garment [Matthew 9:20].
Sir John Simpson, knighted by Queen Victoria in this last century, was a glorious Christian architect. He built those marvelous hospitals in London and in other cities of England—a great Christian, building those hospitals. When he was dying a friend came to see him, and said to him, “Sir John, when you see Jesus, you will be privileged to lay your head upon His breast.” And Sir John Simpson replied, “My friend, I am not worthy to lay my head upon His breast, but I look forward soon to touch the hem of His garment” [Matthew 9:20-21]. I feel that way, Lord, not worthy to stand in Your presence. But, dear God, I look forward to the day when I can touch the hem of Your garment.
And you who have watched on television, how I could pray that this beautiful season of the year would bring to you the sweetest hope and the most precious promise you could ever know in life. If you do not know how to be saved, on the screen you will find a telephone number, and there will be a dedicated man or woman who will answer that phone and tell you how to accept Christ as your Savior. And if you will do it; if you will open your heart and your house and your home to the blessed Savior Jesus, I will see you in heaven someday. You can be saved just by touching the hem of His garment.
And to the great throng and press of people in this sanctuary, down one of these stairways, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, I have decided for God and here I stand.” Accepting the Lord Jesus as your Savior [Romans 10:9-13], healing of heart and soul or a family you coming into the fellowship of the church or answering the press and call of the Spirit, upon the first note of the first stanza, come and welcome, while we stand and while we sing.
THE HEM OF HIS GARMENT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
welcoming throngs in Capernaum (Mark 5:21,
A. Some there out of gratitude
B. Some there out of trembling hope
B. She had heard of Jesus (Luke 6:17-19)
1. She had tried everything else (Mark 5:26)
a. Story of Joseph Grimaldi
C. Her timid, humble approach (Numbers
A. Jesus alone was cognizant of her
1. Disciples astonished at His question, “Who touched Me?” (Luke 8:45)
B. How blessed those of faith and hope, as this woman
IV. The cost
of mercy (Mark 5:30)
A. Every miracle had its cost (Matthew
B. The cross a miracle of how Jesus poured His life out for us
A. The story begins, “She came.” (Mark
B. The story ends in public testimony (Mark 5:33)
VI. Where is
the hem of His garment today?
A. Manifestations of the presence of God are everywhere
B. In the services of the church