The Hem: Their Point of Contact

Matthew 14

A series of events unfolds. John the Baptist is in prison and is beheaded. His head is given to Herodias, his brother Philips wife, while the disciples took his body and buried it. Jesus heard about it and went by Himself in a ship to a deserted place. A multitude then followed Him. He fed 5,000 people with 2 fish and 5 loaves in 12 baskets. Jesus then sent the disciples away in the boat and then sent the multitude away. Jesus went on a mountain to pray alone. The disciples were on the water in a storm and Jesus came to them in the fourth watch. They saw Jesus walking on the water and thought He was a phantasma or what we know as a “ghost”. Jesus called to the disciples and said it was Him. Peter asked to walk out to Him and Jesus said “Come”. “30  But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

There is so much there but I want to look at what all of this leads up to. Notice that the disciples saw a miracle with 5 loaves and 2 fish feeding 5,000 people. This was amazing in itself. Then they see Jesus walking on the water in a storm and their is still doubt in their hearts. Peter is a good example being that he was the one who asked to walk to Jesus on the water and then sunk because of fear of the boisterous wind. After all that they had seen Jesus do He then says “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” 

He asks “Why did you doubt?”. That is something we should probably ask ourselves time and again. Why do we doubt Jesus? Because we are lacking in faith. This brings us to what happens next in Matthew 14. Look at verses 32-36. But I want you to focus on verses 35-36 specifically.

“And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.”

They had crossed the Sea of Galilee and went to Gennesaret (meaning harp). This word comes from ὁμολογουμένως (homologoumenōs) which means to consent or confess. This comes from the word (ὁμολογέω, homologeō) that means a covenant or to profess one’s self the worshipper of one. This is where the word Gennesaret meaning harp comes from. The Hebrew says this about this word. “The first syllable of the name Gennesaret is evidently the Hebrew gan, “garden”; while the second may be a proper name. Possibly, however, the name may represent the Hebrew ganne sarim, “princely gardens.” (http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/gennesaret-land-of/) It has also been called the “Garden of the Prince”.

So Gennesaret means harp in Greek that refers to confessing something in the sense of a covenant or to profess one’s self the worshipper of one. Let’s look at the harp and its use by David when dealing with Saul.

“Let our lord now command your servants who are before you. Let them seek a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall come about when the evil spirit from God is on you, that he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well. So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.” Then one of the young men said, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the LORD is with him.” So Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David who is with the flock.” Jesse took a donkey loaded withbread and a jug of wine and a young goat, and sent them to Saul by David his son. Then David came to Saul and attended him; and Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer. Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David now stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.” So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him.” (1st Samuel 16:16-24) (Bold emphasis mine)

So we see that when David would play this harp that he would drive out this evil spirit that the Lord had sent Saul. It’s fitting that Gennesaret (harp and garden of the prince) was one of the places that those who had faith in Jesus were delivered from there evil spirits and infirmities. I believe David was perfect typology of Jesus doing this in Gennesaret meaning harp while David used a literal harp.

We see that these people had knowledge of Jesus which means they recognized Him for who He actually was and what He was doing. They had enough faith for themselves in Jesus’ healing power that they brought all of those that were sick to just get one touch of His garment. That’s all they needed. These people begged Him that they could touch His garmet. This word for begged is a legal term in Greek. “Parakaléō (“personally make a call”) refers to believers offering up evidence that stands up in God’s court. [3870 (parakaléō), the root of 3875/paráklētos (“legal advocate”), likewise has legal overtones.]” Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as our paráklētos and Jesus Himself was our legal advocate. The peoples faith that Jesus was in fact the Son of God was enough evidence they needed to believe. This is what they recognised Jesus as.

“Parakletos [paravklhto”] is found in John 14:16, 26; 15:26; and 16:7 in the words of Jesus with reference to the Holy Spirit. In 1 John 2:1 it refers to Christ. Most English translations have “advocate” in 1 John 2:1, although the New International Version renders it as “one who speaks in our defense.” To determine the meaning we need to consider the word’s etymology, its usage outside the New Testament, and its context in the New Testament passages. By derivation the word means “one called alongside, ” but the Gospel emphasizes that the Holy Spirit, as Parakletos [paravklhto”], is “sent” from the Father. In earlier Greek the word signified one called in to a person’s defense, a helper in court. In two Greek translations of Job ( 16:2 ) it is used for Job’s “comforters.” Clearly the work of the Holy Spirit is more than either of these: the Spirit is more than a “Counselor” and stronger than a “Comforter” (in our modern sense of the word). The Gospel passages certainly mean that the Holy Spirit is Helper, “another” Parakletos [paravklhto”] ( John 14:16 ), because Jesus had truly been that.” (http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/advocate/)

If you look at the word in Greek for touch –  ἅψωνται (hapsōntai) it means to lay hold of or to touch. It denotes something “properly, “touching that influences” (modifies); touching someone(something) in a way that alters (changes, modifies) them, i.e. “impact-touching.” The root word of this is haptó and means to set something on fire. To kindle a fire. I can see here the power of the Holy Spirit moving these people to faith in Jesus and then as they act on it, the Holy Spirit then deposits a fire into them that comes from the hand of the almighty God. They were changed and healed in an instance by the fire of the Holy Spirit. 

The word for perfectly whole ‘διεσώθησαν (diesōthēsan)’ is used twice, once here and in 1 Peter 3:20. It means “diasṓzō (from 1223 /diá, “through, thoroughly,” which intensifies 4982 /sṓzō, “save”) – properly, save all the way through, i.e. completely deliver from danger and into safety (note the force of the prefix, dia); literally, “to save all the way across” which brings someone through danger and into a safe condition(“thoroughly rescued”).” Its interesting that its used in Peter. “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” The being made perfectly whole from any sickness or infirmity is no different than God saving Noah and his family. 

There are some great studies out there on how this garment is the tallit that Jesus wore. But its not the tallit or the 613 commandments that the tallit represents that saved these people from their sicknesses. It was the faith they had in the living God who had come to set the captives free. It was the power of the Holy Spirit. Your point of contact is your faith.

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