A blog in the series of Loving Freely, by Dan Crain.

 

 

“Who touched me?” 

Wait, what?

How can Jesus know who’s touching him in the midst of the crowd pressing in all around him? It’s utter chaos.

There’s so much activity going on in Mark 5; Jesus has just healed a demon-possessed man, crossed over the other side of the Sea of Galilee, been asked to heal Jairu’s daughter and is now walking through a large crowd pressed all around him.

As he’s walking through the crowd, he’s touched by a woman who’s sick and Jesus instantly knows that power has gone out from him. The disciples are amazed by this and say, “You see the people crowding against you, and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’” (Mark 5:31)

The woman comes up behind Jesus and touches the tassels on the outer garment that he’s wearing. This is significant as to which part of the garment, the tassel she touches. Dwight Pryor says, “The tassel or tzitzit therefore is a powerful visual symbol: first, as a reminder to keep all God’s commandments, and second, as a sign of the authority and rule of God.”

The Hem of His Garment (actually means the tassel) According to Numbers 15:39, these tassels served as a sign to help the wearers “recall all the commandments of the LORD and observe them so that you do not follow the lustful desires of your heart and eyes.” The woman touches the holiest part of Jesus’ garment and power leaves him. 

How does Jesus know that someone touches him while the crowd is pressed all around him? Jesus is so aware of himself emotionally that he instantly knows when power leaves him. Jesus is God’s son whom the Father declares over him in chapter 1, “You are my Son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.”

n chapter 1 of Mark we see these three significant movements of the spiritual formation of Jesus, that I believe fuels his ministry and allows him to come to a place of Loving Freely.

In vs. 11, Jesus is declared the beloved by the Father. In vs. 12-13 he led to the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by Satan. And, then in vs. 35, he withdraws to a solitary place, where he prayed.

In Mark’s gospel, he portrays Christ as a servant, yet, before Jesus becomes a servant, He is first God’s beloved, he then spends time in the wilderness away from any sort of ministry, and then after calling his disciples, driving out evil spirits, healing many and healing a man with leprosy, Jesus withdraws to pray and be with the Father.

The reality is that Jesus loved others because he was God’s beloved, not to become the beloved.

This changes everything. We love others because we are God’s beloved children, not to become the beloved child! And, it’s because God see Jesus as his child, whom he loves, and whom he is well pleased that he can become aware of what’s happening all around him. 

Loving Freely is based on following the model of Jesus in the gospel of Mark. All throughout this gospel we see Jesus loving others freely because he is freely loved by the Father. And this story in Mark 5 is a beautiful example of this. 

How does Jesus get to a place of awareness of things like this? I believe it’s because in the midst of all the activity of the day, Jesus is constantly withdrawing to be alone with the Father. Mark 1:35: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

As reconcilers, we are called to follow the example of Christ and all the ways that he loved others well.

The question then becomes to those who are in the ministry of reconciliation and justice, are we aware of what’s leaving us? Do we notice when effort, energy, love or emotion is leaving us? Are you constantly giving and never in a place of receiving?

The false self in us never wants to stop and slow down to be with Jesus and ourselves and process what’s happening inside of us. A friend in the ministry of reconciliation and justice said to me recently, “I love helping people and it takes a lot of energy to do so.” Helping people does take a lot of energy. Living into the ministry of reconciliation and justice can literally leave you completely empty and drained.

 

What sorts of things are draining you? 

Who’s asking your for things that leaves you exhausted?

Are you saying yes when you should be saying no? 

Are you constantly giving and never in a place of receiving? 

Did someone’s pride and lack of getting their approval set something off in you?

What are you feeling and sensing in the work of reconciliation and justice?

 

 

When I am rooted in Christ and living on the Island of Peace in my soul, I move slowly, thoughtfully, prayerfully and am fully aware of God’s spirit in me and around me leading me to love others freely. I am able to do this despite the intensity of the moment or how hard the situation is. 

Jesus moved slowly, thoughtfully and intentionally all throughout the gospel of Mark as God’s beloved child, and he calls us as reconcilers to do the same.

After all, it’s his work, not ours.

 

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Andy Odle
ANDY ODLE, M.DIV., PH.D.

Executive Director of REMERGE