Time & Tactility

“When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak… At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

– Mark 5:27,30.

Jesus could heal from a distance. Jesus could turn and look at a crowd of a thousand lepers and, with one wave of his hand, heal them all. If he wanted to. What I’ve found however, is that he rarely does this. More often than not, Jesus ‘wastes’ time.

In Mark 5, there is a rush to get to Jairus’ daughter. On the way, a bleeding woman clambers her way through a packed crowd and touches the edge of Jesus’ cloak. He stops. He stops to ask who touched him.  Because he feels, physically feels,the power go out of him. Verse 24 indicates that “a large crowd followed and pressed on him”; there is a real sense of movement, and an anticipation that Jesus is rushing to heal Jairus’ daughter. And yet, he stops. This is clearly frustrating for the disciples; “You see the people… and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’” (v31), and I’m sure it would only have added to Jairus’ anxiety to get home. But Jesus considers it entirely necessary to find the woman and tell her clearly that her faith has healed her. I find this fascinating.

I find it fascinating, because of what happens next: “While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus… ‘Your daughter is dead,’ they said. ‘Why bother the teacher anymore?’” (v35). Jesus was, it seemed, too late. The people don’t feel the need to bother him anymore. And yet, he insists on going on, and heals the daughter: “He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”)” (v41). Did Jesus know that she would be dead by the time he got to her? He certainly seems to operate on his own time scale.

I also find it fascinating because of the evidence of tactility. Perhaps it’s the lack of human contact over the past while, but what sticks out for me, in these little miracles, is Jesus’ personal, physical nature.

In verse 41, he grabs the hand of a dead child (that’s a bit grim sorry) and heals her. Throughout other miracles, he mirrors this action;

“Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on.” – Luke 7:14

“Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing’, he said. ‘Be clean!’” – Matthew 8:3

“After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. ‘Go,’ he told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam’. So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.” – John 9:6-7

In Luke, he touches the coffin, in Matthew, the hand of a man with leprosy and in John, the eyes of a blind man, along with some mud. All these things would have made him ritually unclean. All these things are quite unbecoming of a king. And all these things could be called unnecessary. But Jesus insists on putting himself in the grossness (it’s a word), often physically, only to show his miraculous power.

In order to sacrifice himself for us, Jesus climbed down to our level, and became a measly human. On the way to that ultimate display however, he constantly brought himself down even further, to the level of the sick and needy. In each of these miracles, I like to picture Jesus stopping what he’s doing, perhaps bending down on one knee or two, and staring straight into the face of the person he’s about to heal. Really looking into their eyes, seeing them, taking their hand and healing them. Imagine that.

Photo credit: Mat Reding on Unsplash

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