As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went–into villages, towns or countryside–they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed. (Mark 6:54-56)
Have you ever owned a “relic?”
Relics are items people collect because they have some association with a revered individual. Some of them are said to have supernatural power over sickness and evil. The idea is that the power of the person, who is deceased or not present with us, can be passed along through some remnant of their being, or a past possession.
The theology of relics has always bothered me. I don’t like to see people manipulated with false promises, and my temperature really rises when I see religious organizations give out little spiritually infused trinkets for their supporters to carry or wear.
Please don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with mementoes and souvenirs. It is the ascribing of supernatural power to these things that I believe is wrought with abuse.
So I have to do some real searching when I come to passages such as today’s where people were able to find healing by merely touching the edge of Jesus garment. You may have already read another account in Mark’s gospel where a woman with a 12-year old blood disease was healed when she pressed through a crowd and touched the hem of Jesus cloak.
Is it really possible for supernatural power to pass through an object and into another?
Evidently, yes. Therefore, I have decided to start selling my used straws from my daily Diet-Coke. You can e-mail me or send $100.00 to support my ministry and I will send you an authenticated straw, guaranteed to heal what ails you. (I am kidding, of course)
I have racked my brain to figure out what is different about Jesus’ cloak. How do I distinguish it from a tacky religious relic?
I have concluded the power was certainly not in the item, but in Jesus. And yes, in God’s design, the clothes Jesus wore were used as a conduit. Our passage says “all who touched him were healed.” It doesn’t say “all who touched one of His garments that was being passed through the crowd were healed.”
I must admit, this is not the only place where my convictions are challenged. There are other places in the Bible where supernatural powers are evident in inanimate objects (such as Moses’ staff).
But I can say, I can’t remember a single place where anything of this nature was sold for profit (or non-profit as the case may be). I am not saying you need to throw away your relics if you have them. You just need to look a little higher for your spiritual help.
Dear God, help me avoid superstitions. In Jesus’ name, Amen.