My first mission trip was to an area around Matamoros, Mexico. We were building shelters for people who were living around a dump. They would cover in cardboard boxes for the night. We built sheds with four posts in the ground, planks nailed to the posts and a tin roof. The floor remained dirt but it was the nicest structures these people would know.
Children were all around as we worked. Many of them were clothed only in underwear. It was muddy and they were nasty. My girlfriend (who has now been my wife for over 34 years) would readily pick up these children and play with them. I, on the other hand, didn't want them to get me dirty or give me a disease. Tuberculosis was not unheard of here. There were a myriad of other diseases possible. I wanted to do my good dead without really getting my hands dirty. I can't think of a way to make your life more miserable.
I had to pick up the children within a couple of days. I didn't want to but I knew that they needed to be touched. I couldn't say that I had the love of Jesus within me if I didn't touch them. I knew Jesus had touched me when I was filthy in sin. I knew that I needed to touch these children who were merely filthy with dirt. I would have to deny my Savior if I didn't.
This morning I read the story of the leper whom Jesus touched for healing. It is recorded in three of the gospels. It must have made a huge impact on those who observed for them to record it in three gospels. It must have been very important for the Holy Spirit to lead three gospel writers to include the story.
Jesus healed people without touching them. He healed without having to be physically present. Here, however, He touches a man and cleanses him. Do you wonder why this man is touched?
Lepers had to cover themselves and call out "Unclean!" so that they would not be approached. They had to stay within their community. Their disease made them unfit to worship. They could never expect a rabbi, priest or one who meticulously kept the law to touch them. They were untouchable and forgotten.
Jesus touched this leper because being touched was part of his healing. The leprosy could be healed without a touch. His faith, his heart and his understanding of who Jesus was required that he be touched. Healing the whole man is an act of Jesus. It is who He expects us to be since we carry His Spirit within us.
True believers cannot simply stay in their clean houses and send their money to benevolent causes. True believers carry the Spirit of Christ and it causes us to touch those who are unlovely and unloved. It causes us to get the dirt of the world on us but through our touching we bring the true Light into the darkness.
Matthew 8:2-3 (NIV)
2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.