And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’”
Are you in or out?
There is a crowd pressing against Jesus. And the woman who’s been bleeding for 12 years reaches out to touch him. She gets healed, Jesus recognizes that power has gone from him, and he asks who has touched him.
The marvel of the story is that many people are touching him. Many, similar to the woman, have their own infirmities and sicknesses, yet her touch is the touch that yields the healing.
The story highlights a constant theme in the gospels that Jesus’ life seems to consistently provoke. Jesus is constantly asking, “are you in or are you out?“.
He calls 12 disciples, yet one of them betrays him. There are 500 who witnessed his resurrection but only 120 end up in the upper room to be his church. He has people follow him and perform miracles and cast out demons, but apparently they are not close enough to him. On the day of judgment he tells them, “Away from me you evildoers, I do not know you!”
It turns out that one can be with Jesus but not with Jesus. He is constantly probing people of interest, constantly probing our hearts. “Where are you? And how close do you want be?” Many, as the gospels reveal, are content with just feeling the warmth of the glow, but don’t really commit wholeheartedly.
It begs the question, “How close do we have to be to Jesus in order to be safe?”
Close enough to be burned
We are not to enjoy the warmth of his light from afar. We are not to witness his power in the lives of people around us and not experience it for ourselves. We are not even to be in Spirit-filled churches and not be consumed ourselves. How close do we need to be? Close enough to be burned.
Close enough to the fire where our very lives are burnt up in the flames. Where akin to a paper that has found its way into a campfire, our lives should no longer bear the resemblance of that when we first entered in. Only from the ashes is a true life born. True life comes at a cost–a cost of our very lives. This is the closeness Jesus expects and demands.
On the day of judgment, he is assessing our lives and our bodies, looking for the burn marks of his love. He is looking for the char of his transformation, the evidence of his presence truly residing within us.
If you are satisfied with the peripherals of his warmth from afar in this life, you won’t be satisfied looking from the outside in the courts of heaven.
And so the question is asked of us again and again, “Are you in or are you out?” What is keeping you from stepping towards the fire? Money? Wealth? Power? Pleasure? Cast it aside and step towards the flame.
Lord, help us to walk in the flame of your love. For in that place, we are transformed and made new. Shake the weight of hesitation and the gloss over our eyes that keeps us in a false spirit of contentment.