Year ago, when someone was stricken with Hansen's Disease, or what was then known as leprosy, they were deemed untouchable. When they walked into a crowd, the people parted like Moses had just walked in. They ate alone. They sat alone. They lived alone.
One day Jesus was approached by one of these untouchables.
When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” Matthew 8:1-4
It was an amazing day for sure. An untouchable had been given a second chance at life. The miracle itself is a beautiful picture of hope.
But the part that sticks to me is the touch.
Jesus "reached out his hand" and touched him. Then He healed him. Those acts seemed to be independent of one another.
In other words, Jesus didn't have to touch him. He chose to touch him. He chose to touch a man who had been declared untouchable. Jesus could have simply spoken His healing into being. Instead, while the disease was present, scary, repulsive, and horrific, Jesus put His own hand on the man's shoulder.
God's plan for us is to be healers. We are to let Him work through us to embrace the world. We can not be the people we were created to be, if we avoid contact with those who are considered untouchable. How can we reach people if we are afraid to touch people?
Our cities are filled with people who appear to be unreachable only because we have labeled them untouchable.
As it turned out, "leprosy" was not as contagious as everyone thought. It just looked that way.
We live in a culture of protection. We spend our lives trying to avoid contact with danger, fear, disappointment, and even dirt. Jesus embraced it all.
He embraced us.