Jesus was filled with deep concern. He reached out his hand and touched the man.
“I am willing to do it,” he said. “Be ‘clean’!”
Men have five senses. There are sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. However, it is said that women have sixth sense called gut feeling because they know when her husband makes an affair.
Human needs all five senses. If we lose even one sense, we have difficulty in leading a normal life. What is interesting is that other senses except touch are only responsible at specific organs. Sight is governed by eyes, hearing is by ears. Taste is by tongue and smell is by nose. All four organs on face are responsible for four senses. However, a sense of touch is special because it is dedicated by entire skin of our body. Moreover, it transmits diverse information to us such as ‘cold, warm, hot, cool, sting, soft, hard, painful, and hurt.’ Therefore, touch is an important sense to recognize our environment.
Touch serves an important role in human relationship.
The sense of touch is important in human relationship. The loved ones grow love through touch. Conversely, they show closeness through the medium of touch such as holding hands, hugging, and kissing. Adults give messages of protection and love to children by patting their heads, holding hands, and hugging. However, we know the importance of touch by brain but don’t act out as often as we should.
Someone said, “I feel awkward when I hold my daughter’s hand. I feel like I am touching strangers.” I thought it could be possible to feel that way if he caught up at work and had less time around her. When I heard him saying, I was worried in one corner of mind if I would be like him. Since then, I try to hold our children’s hand more often so I would get used to it.
When I went to Korea after several years in the U.S., my mom welcomed me and said, “My son! It has been a long time. Good to see you. Shall we shake hands?” “Yes?” like that, we shook hands awkwardly. She might feel like I am a stranger because it has been so long. Later when I thought back, I had no memory of hugging my mom. She must have held me many times when I was young. But she didn’t hold me when I reached the certain age. So I hug my children often and even wrestle with them because I am worried that I would be like my mom if I don’t practice it now. I am afraid that I will say like my mom said to me once, ‘My son and daughter, It has been a long time. Good to see you. Shall we shake hands?’
Someone once asked me the best memory of my life. I thought over for a moment and a scene crossed over my mind. It is when my father gently patted my head when I received the acceptance letter from the college. Of course, I was happy with the letter. But I felt happiness beyond word when he stroked my head. Well, it might not be a special thing for a father to pat his son’s head. However, it was special to me. I think my father touched me with a pride for the first time since my childhood. So sometimes I stroked my son’s head. And I told him that I love him. I know it is nothing special thing to do. But I know my son likes it as I liked when my father did so.
Though it seems a bit late, I am learning the importance of touch. Since I am not used to touch people, it is awkward and difficult for me to hold someone’s hand, hug or stroke. But, I try to get used to it. I try to shake hands and hug more often. Especially I hug each child of our church whenever it is possible. Sometimes I beg them to hug me with arms wide open. ‘Please, hug me.’ I want to give them a message, ‘I love you. I want to be close to you.’
It is also proven in research that touch plays important role in the growth of children. According to research, a child receiving many touches grows well and develops linguistic ability fast. So infants need to be touched and held all the time. When infants cry, they need to be picked up immediately. Then they learn to trust people with whole body. They recognize that there is a person who cares, protects and loves in times of trouble. So touch and hold hands of your loving family. Then, love and trust will grow in the family.
Touch plays an important role in human relationship. It gives a message of love. Although an act of touch such as holding hands, stroking cheeks, head, patting shoulder, and hug seems so trivial thing to do, it is important. When our body temperature transmits to others through touch, we give a message, ‘I love you, I like you. I am proud of you. I want to be close with you.’ So practice it to others, especially to your family and church members.
Because of the significance of touch, we also need to be careful when we touch someone. For example, patting a child’s buttocks might be okay in Korea. However, it could be misunderstood as sexual molest in the U.S. although we argue it is an expression of love. So we should be careful in touching others because touch has strong effect.
Our lord also touched many people during His public ministry on earth. The leper in today’s passage experienced His touch. Let us take a look at verse 41, Jesus was filled with deep concern. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing to do it,” he said. “Be ‘clean’!” The bible doesn’t say where the Lord touches. But I guess He touched the leper’s shoulder or hands.
There are other records of Jesus’ touch. Mark 1:30-31, Simon’s mother-in-law was lying in bed. She had a fever. They told Jesus about her. So he went to her. He took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her. Then she began to serve them.
It is not difficult to find that the Lord touched many people when He healed them. Touch is what the sick in body and soul needs. So hug and hold people in suffering. They will find comfort and peace in mind. Their illness in mind and body will be healed.
The Lord doesn’t only touch the sick. He also touched children. Mark 10:13-14, People were bringing little children to Jesus. They wanted him to touch them. But the disciples told the people to stop. When Jesus saw this, he was angry. He said to his disciples, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t keep them away. God’s kingdom belongs to people like them. The Lord enjoyed touching children. Mark 10:16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
Also, the Lord cleans His disciples’ feet. That is, he touched their dirty feet. John 13:4-5, So he got up from the meal and took off his outer clothes. He wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a large bowl. Then he began to wash his disciples’ feet. He dried them with the towel that was wrapped around him. Our Lord shows us how to build a relationship through touch. He teaches us to live and serve each other, to clean our dirty place, and to ease pain. I hope you and I could follow His example.
There are some people whom we don’t want to touch.
The act of Jesus teaches us that we should reach out and touch others in pain. However, there are someone who we don’t want to touch. This is a problem for those who wish to resemble the Lord. Lepers are one of them. It is a horrible disease. In fact, I am afraid to touch them for fear of infection. They are isolated because of strong infection. They look dirty and smelly. It is hard to find peace in their faces. So our logic says not to touch them.
Lepers are not the only ones we don’t want to touch. We don’t want to touch the guilty such as robbers, thief, and swindlers. We are afraid they might harm us. So we don’t even want to interact with them. Moreover, it is hard to hold hands of those who hurt us. Parents hurt children. Children hurt them back. Then we don’t want to touch each other. We rather live without seeing them. I think this is who we are. I realize that I lack in so many qualities of Jesus. I have a long road ahead of me to become like Him.
We don’t want to touch those who we love as well as the convicts. When we find weakness in our loved ones, we don’t want to touch. I went to see my great grandmother few days before she passed away. She was very nice to me but I always felt regret that I couldn’t return her love. When I stepped into her room, my aunt told me that she just washed her. I said, ‘Grandmother, it is me.’ And I saw her lying on the bed. My eyes caught a sight of her hands. They were rough and ugly. I reached out my hand to hold hers but hesitated for a second. Upon seeing me, she hid her hands. I was surprised with her reaction. I felt shame myself, too. So I picked her hands and hold them. Then she began to talk how much she missed me and how much she was glad to see me before it was too late.
The bible says, Ephesians 4:13, That will continue until we all become one in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son. Then we will be grown up in the faith. We will receive everything that Christ has for us. Although our faith is weak at present, we should strive to become more like the Lord. Although we have weakness now, we should have a hope that we will be changed tomorrow. We should have a hope we will walk toward the Lord this year closer than last years. I will work hard to become more like the Lord. I wish you also become more like the Lord every day.
Then how can we resemble the Lord? As I contemplate the Lord’s act of touching the leper, I think of three messages, which I want to share with you today.
First, touch with love. Look at verse 41. Jesus was filled with deep concern. Jesus knew how much the leper was suffered. He felt his mind. The reason I could hold my grandmother’s hands was that I was able to feel her mind, also. So I became courageous and held her hands. Likewise, when we understand others’ mind, we can hold those whom we are afraid of. We can touch rough or rude people if we understand them. More likely we can touch them when we love them.
As Jesus did to the leper, we have to touch people with love. Then we will see. We will witness how love changes people. We will witness how we are changed when we touch others with love. We should experience such power of touch.
Secondly, experience the Lord’s touch. Think of the leper. People must have thrown stones and mocked him for his deformed face. No one would touch him. How sorrowful he must be! He lived a sad life. The leprosy is a disease that takes away one’s sense of touch. People of leprosy cannot feel a pain even though their whole body goes infected. The Lord touched his body and melted his frozen mind. The warmth of the Lord’s hand must have spread over his whole body while he cured immediately. How joyful he must be! How happy he must be! We can learn the Lord’s touch was the most powerful message of love to the leper. Yes. Those who experience the Lord’s touch knows God’s joy. Then they can also touch others just like the Lord touched them.
Spiritually people of leprosy are like those whose sins are revealed. When sins are hidden, people look pretty outwardly. When they are hidden, life seems exciting and joyful. However, there is no other uglier thing to see when sins are revealed. People wouldn’t shake hands because dirty sins cover one’s body like lepers. So the Lord’s touch represents the purification of our sins as He healed the leper. The Lord’s touch represents the liberation from sins as He saved the leper from humiliation.
Those who experienced the Lord’s touch can be compassionate with others in distress as the Lord did to them. So it is important to experience His touch. If any of you had felt His touch, I hope you could deliver a news of joy to others like the leper did in today’s passage. If you haven’t experienced it yet, I pray that you can feel the Lord’s touch soon.
Thirdly, the Lord wants to use our hands. He wants to work through our hands to touch others like lepers. The book of Pastor David in South Africa, A fool for Jesus, showed how the Lord used His hands. David was a pastor with growing church. One day he heard the Lord’ voice to wash others’ feet. He seriously thought over His order and decided to follow it. For people’s eyes, it is a foolish decision. But he resigned and began to wash strangers’ feet. However, the Lord brought spiritual revival to South Africa through him. Through his mission, thousands of people came to believe in Jesus. Many people were healed because the Lord worked through his hand. He worked in a dangerous place where violence spread and unwanted children are everywhere. What does it mean? It is a place where the Lord’s touch is most needed. The Lord poured hope to South Africa through the hands of David.
The Lord also challenges us. He wants to use our hands. Though we lack in many qualities, He wants to work through our hands. And the Lord wants to touch those who are suffered from illness and evil spirit through our hands. Though we have no power, our Lord is omnipotent. Though we can’t do it, the Lord can clean people. Though we cannot do it, people change when the Lord touches them. Lend our hands to the Lord. Let the Lord touch others through our hands. I hope our church experiences God’s abundant touches.
I want to pray. God. Give us a blessing. God. Give us Your mind. God. Give us Your touch. I am waiting for your touch. I sincerely pray we have a blessing of pure life through the Lord’s touch in the name of the Lord. Amen. Let us pray together.