For Damilare Babalola…
I woke up empty today. Engulfed by my desires and seemingly insurmountable needs I have somehow lost sight of what it means to be alive. My struggle is endless. Each day drags me relentlessly to the house of my tormentor. With his steely gaze on my back he begins to flog me without flinching or remorse. But there is hope… Soon I will leave this job. Soon I will build my house. Soon I will become a source of joy and no longer the harbinger of sadness. Soon … because this morning I will touch the hem of His robe. I will place my withering fingers on the fringes of his shawl and I know I will be made whole.
“And his disciples said unto him (brusquely, almost with sarcasm), thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?” – Mark 5:31
WHAT A QUESTION! You cannot ignore the audacity of such.
Look at the identity of the one asking and the prevailing circumstances. You cannot escape the thrill of it – the tingle of excitement that grips you when you think of Christ stopping in response to the touch of a poor nameless woman.
YES! She was poor and apparently she was nameless – the books don’t record her name for us. She is labeled by her sickness. The woman with the issue of blood! Many have come to know her as Unclean, Unchaste, Harlot or better still “whore”… Imagine that!
Let’s call her Rachel.
Rachel is worse than a leper for she has a problem with her blood. She is an abomination, one relegated to the bottom of the food chain, an eyesore among eyesores. She is the monster underneath children’s beds… She is …
Yet the carpenter’s son stops to ask a question. The words of this question are not cold abstract dead words. They do not form a hook on which one could hang theories or finely spun philosophies. No, they are too vital for that. They march into the vestibule of your heart and knock on the door. They demand a honest and introspective answer. They make no assumptions. They are as the quiet striking of judge’s gavel… He does not argue theology with the elite among the wise. He makes no show of grandeur. He is outrageously simple yet dazzingly regale as he stops to ask a question because of one touch…
Just one touch… faint and slight,
The incident takes place in a city street. Imagine a place like Ojuelegba or better still the noisy, noxious streets of Mile 12 Market. It is a narrow twisted road packed with a crowd of gesticulating, excited people, surging past its bazaars and pavement stalls with all the noise and confusion of a market place.
In the distance, hawkers scream “buy your gala, cold laCasera”. In the corner a pickpocket eyes a lady fondling carelessly with her Samsung phone. She is tweeting – “I just saw Jesus #FineMan #Iwasthere”. She is oblivious to his intent. They are all oblivious to the miracle about to occur. The setting of this text is a vivid picture – colorful, appealing, and of absorbing interest. A procession moves through the street, amidst the chaos of Fashola boys chasing okada riders, and the umemployed cursing their luck after another failed attempt to secure situable employment.
A murmur of conversation grows louder as the procession pushes its way through the narrow street. There is a sound like the chanting of some mysterious dirge that frequently rises to an excited crescendo. Here and there a voice rises distinctly out of the medley in what might have been a prayer; but it is lost in crackling laughter, rudely interrupted and drowned in the barking of dogs and argument and discussion of a crowd that loves to talk.
They are caught up in the infection of curiosity, and walking along in their very midst, wedged in the tightly packed procession is Someone….
It is His face that will hold your gaze – and will haunt you long after the sun has gone home, and the purple night, cool and starlit, has stilled every noise in the city, while only the Lagos stars wink unsleeping. He is not even a celebrity, much unlike our entertainment stars or billionaires whose names fill the pages of Forbes.
One is aware of that face even in a crowd. Having once seen it, one sees it everywhere, for it is a haunting face – an expression that will not fade …eyes whose fire never dies out … a face that lingers in memory. Farmers were to see it as they followed the swaying stock, and Fishermen were to watch it dancing in the sun-flecked water. This One who walks like a king is named Jesus. They called him the Nazarene or the Galilean. He called himself the Son of man.
The common people – market women especially Iya Gbenga who sells puff-puff speak of Him softly, with deep affection. The beggars whisper His name in the streets as they pass, and the children may be heard singing about Him. His name has been breathed in prayer and whispered at night under the stars. He is known to the diseased, the human flotsam and jetsam that shuffle in and out of the towns and drifts hopelessly along the dusty highways of human misery.
His fame has trickled down to the streets of forgotten men, has seeped into the shadowed refuges of the unremembered women. It is Jesus of Nazareth. There is in the crowd another face – Rachel’s face. She had heard what He had done for others. Surely He had power to bring into the haven of health the lost explorers of the vast treasuries of pain! Surely, He had the power to lift from the dust of disease the flowers whose stems had been crushed in the mildews of human misery!
Beauty marred by suffering
Rachel is typical of countless cases of endless pain and suffering. Her face portrays great depth of human emotion – PALE, PINCHED AND WAN. The agony of twelve long years and twelve years is a long time! Great lines of suffering mar her beauty and sweetness, and even now her lips are drawn in a thin line of despair. The face is streaked with pain. Her body racked with acute suffering.
She would touch Him – even only the hem of His garment – and get remedy for her pernicious hemorrhage. An awful malady that had stripped her of all her wealth; She had gone to many physicians and was none better – but rather worse. Every new day was another hopeless dawn and sunset was stained with the blood of her pain.
Can you not imagine such nervous reasoning?
“Touch Him … Yes … just to touch Him – there would be no harm in that”
“On the head? No … that would be irreverent! I would not dare! How about his hand? That would be too intimate, too familiar”
“I will touch just the fringes of his shawl, the hem of his robe … there can be no harm in that”
Thus reasoning, she pushes her way through the crowd and with the pertinacity of despair she struggles in that dense throng nearer and nearer, pushing and crushing. People get in the way not knowing her need. The lady with the samsung is in despair as she searches for her phone.The pickpocket glares at Rachel who struggles to get to the teacher.
Now she is desperate. They don’t understand. They don’t know the burden of losing friends and family. Have they been rejected by those who once claimed to love them? 12 years a slave, today would either end her suffering or prove to her that all hope is lost. He was her light – she let out a sigh “Urijah!!!” He was drawing nearer. Now she can almost reach him – another moment – at last just as He passes, she is able to reach out her hand, and with the tip of her finger touch his robe.
It was enough.
With a trembling finger she touched Him. The fringes of His garment seemed laced with a power that was hidden to the eye. She had battled the fear of failure, the gloomy reports of the physicians, her family’s reservations – and she touched Him. Like an electric shock there surged back into her shrunken veins, her panting lungs, the withered muscles, and the bloodless flesh the rich glow of vitality and health. Her body had been redeemed and given life – she had taken life.
Beauty restored by a touch
She retreated back into the crowd unnoticed. Her touch was with trembling haste, surely no one had seen her touch the Rabbi.
No one had noticed her – no one –
but Christ!… she saw the look on his face! how did he know? It was impossible!
Recognizing the magnetic touch of faith amid the pressure of the crowd, He stopped and asked that terrific question. The disciples are dumbfounded. Peter is incensed. The master has begun his eccentricities. How does He expect us to know? Judas is stunned. Perhaps it is a trick question, afterall the master is fond of them. Thomas shakes his head in disbelief. Why is the Rabbi so particular about that touch? There is a girl on her deathbed, Jesus we need to hurry. The lines of worry on Jairus’ head thicken…
But Jesus insists and Rachel knows that He knows as he mouths his question
“Who touched me?”
Please Read Matthew 9:20-21, Numbers 15:37-41, Malachi4:2 and Deuteronomy 22:12
Guess what!!! on the 18th of May 2014, Pastor Bolaji Idowu (HICC) will be at The Haven Christian Centre (@thcc_kmi) to teach on UNCOMMON SPEED… Save the date! Come! and be BLESSED.