May 25, 2016

Touching the Untouchables

Luke 5:12-16

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”

—  Luke 5:13

In Jesus’ day, lepers were considered untouchables. Leprosy was a highly infectious skin disease. God had given strict instructions for anyone with leprosy: “When anyone has a swelling or a rash or a shiny spot on their skin that may be a defiling skin disease . . . the priest . . . shall pronounce them ceremonially unclean. . . . As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp” (Leviticus 13:2-3, 46).

The leper didn’t want to be outcast anymore. He took a risk that Jesus might take a risk on him. From the dusty ground, the leper uttered his prayer to the visiting Rabbi: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” This was the trusting prayer of a desperate man looking for restoration. 

Jesus didn’t react as so many had done before—he moved toward the man rather than away. He reached out and touched the man. Jesus’ words “I am willing. . . . Be clean!” set into motion a transformation from the Savior who was not repelled by the man’s untouchableness.

Do you need a touch from the Master? Do you need his cleansing? He is walking in your direction. Let him touch you.
Jesus’ amazing love heals the very thing that keeps each of us in hiding.

Great Physician, I need to come out of the shadows and be healed. Touch my pain, my sins, my infirmities, and transform them so that I may openly praise you wherever I go. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Reginald Smith

Dr. Reginald Smith is senior pastor at Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has served for seventeen years. He has also served as a pastor in Paterson, New Jersey. He and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters, Janelle, Katrina, and Mariah.

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