Some years back, I wondered why people gave some sort of reverence to things like anointing oil, ‘holy’ water, handkerchiefs, aprons, ‘approaching shadows’— even the hands of preacher men too! In Africa especially – I do not say this as one who wishes to condemn – most Christians complicate simple actions. We just do not like simple things. The doctrine of healing for instance suffers perplexity in our hands. This will be my main focus for this write-up.
Honestly, I need answers because some of the things being done ‘in the name of Jesus’ raise a lot of eyebrows. One time, my cousin said to me that a guest minister instructed every member of her cell group to bath with ‘VIMTO’ at home as means to activate God’s healing power in their lives. Wash down with a soft drink to release healing anointing from on high? Uh– okay.’ I must admit that what she told me didn’t rest comfortably in my spirit. My spirit really battled its acceptance (she felt same too at the meeting) and it’s with many other actions I hear/read about certain ‘believers’. I won’t deny the fact that the Bible is saturated with mind-blowing miracles. But one thing I believe is God is a God of principle and everything He does is always in line with His Word. If this Word we are talking about is indeed hidden in my heart, then every instruction I receive from it must agree peacefully with my spirit.
I have come to realize that the underlying cause of this problem is the misinterpretation of biblical symbolism. The Bible is a book full of symbolic representations. A symbol is anything that stands for or suggests something else by means of relationship or resemblance. It is always safe to know what a symbol stands for. You will agree with me that misinterpreting a particular road symbol for example can lead to fatalities. The same fact holds for Christianity. Misinterpretation of a biblical symbol may cause a slight graze against the skin. That would heal speedily. However, those that are capable of causing us to sustain deep wounds are worth watching out for. I don’t wish that for you or myself so why don’t we examine the Bible briefly to discover the truth for ourselves?
Two stories in the New Testament whet my curiosity— ‘The woman with the issue of blood’ and ‘A man born blind receives sight’. Both stories transpired during the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. I decided to focus on these ones primarily because they involve Jesus who happens to be the founder of our Christian Faith. In short,He is the end of the Law so whatever He says is final. Now, to the stories.
THE WOMAN WITH THE ISSUE OF BLOOD (Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:20-22; Luke 8:43-47)
“And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, ‘If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well’.” Matt 9:20-21 NKJV
Why did she choose to touch the Hem?
The Tassel(hem) of Jesus’ clothes which characterized the Law of Moses as well as authority hanged on the hems of garments as commanded by God in ancient times (Numbers 15:37-41). These Tassels (sometimes referred to as ‘fringes’) had blue cords attached to them. Blue is often associated with divinity in Judaism. It is also believed to symbolize God’s glory as well as His handiwork (observe the blue sky and sea) This woman probably understood that the blue in the Tassel represented the powerful nature of God’s Word, which also held the promise of divine healing. If that was the case, then she could have touched the hem of any other person’s garment for her healing, correct? But the account is different here. She rather looked out for Jesus of whom it was prophesied He was the Messiah. Perhaps, she even remembered the Messianic writings of the prophet Malachi (Mal 4:2), “But to you who fear My name, The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings” Wait a minute! The Hebrew word translated as “wings” in this context is ‘kanaph’, which also means ‘fringes’. Could it be that she purposely touched the hem of Jesus’ garment knowing that the Sun of Righteousness had healing in His “wings”?
I want to believe that her action was not only to acknowledge publicly the Divine authority of Jesus as the True Messiah, but also to reaffirm her trust in the sure promises of God’s Word to receive her healing. However, the touch was just a symbolic act; a physical manifestation of her faith in action to receive her miracle. Her understanding was right; her corresponding action was right; her reverence to ONLY Jesus was right!
NEWS FLASH: It was JESUS who perceived power had gone out of Him, not the Hem.
A MAN BORN BLIND RECEIVES SIGHT (John 9:1-7)
“When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.” John 9:6-7 NKJV
The 8th chapter of John focuses largely on Jesus’ origin. When Jesus spoke extensively of His Father, the response from the crowd was “WHO IS YOUR FATHER?” Then the early portions of chapter 9 greets us with a rather odd practice. Throughout scripture, Jesus had healed many sick people with just a touch or a word. So why spit and mud this time around? Jewish culture taught that God had a test for matters of dispute with regard to inheritance. This test would reveal supernaturally who the legitimate son was; as rightful owner to the family property inheritance. Second Temple Judaism held beliefs that the spit of a legitimate first-born heir had curative powers against any disease or injury. Once it touched an afflicted person and healing took place, it sent a powerful message concerning one’s position as sole heir to his father’s inheritance. Jesus’ act of healing the blind man by this method seemed quite appropriate to answer the critics around Him. His choice of action authenticated His Father-Son relationship with God and the fact that He is the first begotten son of the Father. It granted others the possibility of believing that Jesus was no ordinary man. But this is the point I want to make here: The man’s faith was never in the spit because he knew the symbolic act only certified Jesus’ legitimacy. His faith was in Jesus because he believed that the power was ONLY but in the One who was sent from God. [John 9:33]
Jesus could have said, “Be of good cheer my daughter; my hem has made you well” or “Go my son, wash yourself and believe in the power of the spit”. However, the Bible records differently — so different in text and intended meaning. The source of healing and restoration is Jesus — ONLY JESUS. It is not the hem, the mud, the assorted oils, the barrels of ‘holy’ water, the pastor’s coat and the others you could possibly think of. He remains the source of Divine Power and our corresponding actions have to bear witness to that truth always.
Let us learn to place the KING OF KINGS at the center of our hearts and “things” on the outside. Oh, Lord our God, how majestic is your Name in all the earth! Nothing qualifies to be the Lord’s replacement. He is not in need of any assistant. For He said plainly, “I am the Lord your God, there is none else; there is no god beside me”. Please, do not be the first to get Him one. Do not even attempt it because He is a jealous God!
“As long as you want anything very much, especially more than you want God, it is an idol.” — A.B Simpson