"Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God” (Numbers 15:38-40).
Hugh MacMillan, in a sermon for children, tells the story of the boy who always touched a button on his vest when he wanted to remember facts in history or math, geography or grammar. One day his mischievous classmates cut the button off without the boy's knowledge and, when he went up for his examination he went to touch the button and it wasn't there, the poor boy was thrown into total confusion. We all have reminders of some kind, a note we've written to ourselves or the thread around the finger. If I want to remember to take something with me to work, I put it right in front of the door so I have to stumble over it.
Dr. MacMillan points out that this tassel was to be put on every-day clothing for every-day work. But instead of the reminder making the wearers more holy in their daily walk and talk, it became an object of pride and conceit, something for others to take notice of, that the wearer was better than the other person. "Look at us, we're better than the rest of you. Admire us, praise us!" That certainly wasn't what God intended when He told His chosen people to put on the tassels.
Jesus wore the tassel, too, although He didn't have to, but He took our place and was made under the law like all Jews. In Matthew 9:20 we read of the sick woman who touched the hem of His garment and perhaps touched the blue tassel, thinking there was virtue in the tassel itself, and she was made whole by the touch. If she had touched the tassel of a self-righteous Pharisee, he probably would have turned around and scolded her for profaning it, but Jesus, our Fringe Benefit, gently told her that she was healed because of her great faith.
"And if you, my dear young friends, will touch the blue ribband on the robe of Jesus as it comes down to your ignorance and helplessness from the high heaven, and offers itself to the touch of the smallest child, your soul will be cleansed and healed, and you yourself will be made the means of cleansing and healing others. As through the blue ribband of Jesus' robe healing virtue flowed, so if you keep hold of it through faith, and wear it yourself and make it the dress in which a gentle and gracious character clothes itself in daily action, it will impart virtue through you to all who come into contact with you. In proportion as you are good and Christ-like, through your very dress, that which shows your real nature, the power of God will pass. The blue ribband, not of the outward pretentious display of your goodness for the praise of men, that will make you disagreeable and hateful so that people will shun you; but the blue ribband of your real inward obedience to God's holy law, that will make your simple, earnest, loving piety so attractive, blue, and serene as the heaven above you, that the poor and timid and the ailing will love to touch it, and be benefited by it. That blue hem of your garment, like Christ's own, will do mighty miracles in the world!" (MacMillan.)