“When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
In these verses of Matthew’s gospel we read this beautiful story of the compassion of Jesus when Jesus reaches out and touches the leper and heals him. Jesus could have healed the leper by speaking a word. Jesus certainly had the power to heal without touching or being present as we read in the next verses.
“Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.” Matt.8-13 NKJV
The leper was an outcast from society and was “unclean”. The Jewish law forbade touching lepers and they were kept away from society. People avoided and shunned them in case they too became leprous. We don’t know how long this man had been leprous but he was living the awful life of an outcast without human touch and fellowship with the rest of society. Living not just with the pain of a physical disease but one that emotionally wounded by stripping away and isolating him. This man was unwanted and rejected by those around him.
Jesus reached out in more ways than one to this wounded soul when He touched him. Just one touch was all it took.
I can only imagine the joy that act of compassion made to that man. Feeling the touch of another and being accepted. No longer a leper but cleansed and healed and now able to rejoin society and belong again.
This to me is the sum of the gospel – the good news that we have believed. Jesus is the only one who can cleanse us from our sins and bring us back into relationship with God. We were separated from God by sin but Jesus reached out to us in all our sin and shame and brought cleansing, healing and restoration. We are now part of God’s family. Adopted children. We belong.
Jesus fulfilled the Jewish law when He touched the leper because what was unclean became immediately cleansed at His touch. Jesus fulfilled the law when he died for us. Jesus paid the price of our sin by His sacrifice and death on the cross. Jesus redeemed us from the wrath of God and judgment to come and we look forward to our reunion with God in heaven for all eternity.
Whatever your need is today, Jesus sees you – right where you are. He knows your need and He will reach into whatever part needs a touch from Him today. As the leper bowed before Jesus in humility and asked for help then bring your request to Jesus today. He will meet you.