Leprosy is a terrible disease. One that many think was confined to Bible times, but sadly there are about 200,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Treatment has greatly improved, but in Bible times a person with leprosy was ostricized from society. They were forced to leave their families and everyone they loved and live outside the city away from society. When they walked from place to place they were required to cry out “unclean, unclean, unclean” so that anyone nearby could steer clear of the contagion. Touching a leper meant the liklihood of contracting the disease. One day when Jesus was teaching, a man who was covered with leprosy fell at his feet and asked to be healed. Although he felt unworthy, he took a chance and approached Jesus with hope and faith that his disease might be cured. Jesus did the unthinkable, the out-of-this-world thing that no one else would do; throwing caution to the wind, he touched the man and then healed him. More than anything, the leper needed to be touched, to feel he had value, to know that he mattered to God. Jesus looked beyond his diseased body and saw what his soul needed and met that need as well as the man’s need for physical healing.
Jn 10:10, 15:19; 1 Pe 2:11; Lk 4:18-19, 21; Lk 5:12-14; Ps 34:18; Mk 1:45; Ro 5:5
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “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!” And immediately the leprosy left him. (Lk 5:12-13)
Every day we brush up against people who have incredible worth. God has given great value to every single person. Each person was worth the price of His son on the cross. However, we often treat people as if they are lepers. We keep our distance and don’t want to get infected, involved or too close to those who are hurting because they might infect us with their pain. It’s uncomfortable; it’s inconvenient. It requires that we get involved. Until we are willing to embrace their hurt and struggles and get close enough to touch their lives, they’ll never experience God’s love. We are called to touch people’s lives for Jesus Christ.
Can you imagine what it would have been like to be a leper in Jesus’ day? Do you realize how much people need the touch (warm handshake, hug, pat on the back) of another human? Who do you know that has been marginalized by society and needs care? Are you available to those around you? Are you approachable? What’s the difference? Who are your untouchables? Why are they untouchable to you (lifestyle, appearance, politics, social standing, race)? Who do you need to value for Christ?
Make a plan to reach out to someone who has been an untouchable in your life. Allow God to lead you and do something regularly, not just a one-time reach out. Show consistent care and concern.
Lord, you reached out to me in the midst of my sin and shame and touched me and saved my soul. Thank you for loving me so much, for valuing me as your child. Give me the insight, the grace and the heart to care for others and share your love with those who are hurting and alone. I praise you for being my loving and gracious Father! In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.