Compassionate touch ∙
Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. – Mark 1:41
1 Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside.
2 Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”
3 Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.
4 Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”.
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease (HD), is a long-term infectious disease that causes severe, disfiguring skin sores or ulcers, nerve damage, and muscle weakness. People catch it only if they come into close and repeated contact with the fluids from the nose or mouth of an infected person.
Approximately 180,000 people are infected with leprosy in the 21st century world. About 100 people are diagnosed with leprosy in the United States each year.
Leprosy is a bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. Nerve damage may result in a lack of ability to feel pain, which can lead to the loss of parts of a person’s extremities from repeated injuries or infection due to undetected wounds or sores.
Dr. Paul Brand, a 20th century pioneer medical missionary to India, saw firsthand the stigma associated with leprosy. During an appointment, he touched a patient to reassure him treatment was possible. Tears began to stream down the man’s face. An attendant explained the tears to Dr. Brand, saying, “You touched him, and no one has done that for years. They are tears of joy” (Lisa Samra).
Consider for a moment that many diseases require isolation, quarantine, special care, and what today we call “social distancing.” Such individuals are not only physically ill but also suffer from a deep sense of loneliness and rejection. Beyond the need for physical treatment, restoration, and the return to health, there is often a deep inner need to feel accepted and loved.
The Lord Jesus Christ was filled with compassion. The Greek word translated as compassion is splagchnizomai. Splagchnizomai means to have pity, compassion, or be sympathetic. It comes from the Greek word splagchnon. It referred to the intestines, viscera, and the inward parts of the body that were considered in the ancient world to be the seat of deep, tender emotions. The English word spleen is related to this Greek word.
With a compassionate touch, the Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated gracious, welcoming acceptance. Any child of the King can reach out with a compassionate touch and do the same. Many among us are lonely and dejected. A bit of time spent which includes listening, understanding, and compassionate touch, can make all the difference.
Some people have the most remarkable sensitive and caring touch. If you ever have the delight and pleasure of knowing such a person, enjoy every opportunity you have a benefit from their compassionate touch.
REFLECT & PRAY
He is willing to make you whole. Are you willing to be made whole?
Father thank You that You are the fount of all compassion. Your loving arms and hands touch us in the deepest recesses of our souls. What a comfort and what a joy!
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for leprosy tsara included a variety of skin conditions characterized by peeling skin, sores, skin rashes, measles, smallpox, etc.
During the Old Testament period, leprosy was understood to be a physical ailment that often had spiritual implications. When a person was struck with leprosy, they would go to a priest for a diagnosis (Leviticus 13). Obviously, at that time, medical doctors were not an option. Also, if there were a possibility that healing and cleansing had occurred, a priest would be the one to confirm it (Leviticus 14).
While leprosy was common in the Old Testament, there is historical mention of only two recorded healings: Miriam, the sister of Moses (Numbers 12:10-15), and Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5:1-14)
While people tend to focus on the outside; however, what is going on the inside is often far more critical.
1 Samuel 16:7 The LORD does not see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
In the 21st century, few of us will ever suffer from physical, external leprosy. But unseen leprotic ulcers and wounds within our hearts are regrettably quite common. They are often far more severe. Who among us has a heart without a bit of darkness and rot within?
The Father has made provision to remove dead and rotten heart tissue: the guilt, the shame, the remorse, and our sense of loss and worthlessness that haunts us. The Father established the sacrificial system period to cover and redeem sin.
But the sacrificial blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is far more powerful and productive.
13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity.
14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
The Lord Jesus Christ “does not shrink from laying his hand even on the loathsomeness of leprosy. Wherever the compassionate Christ and the yearning sinner meet, there then comes instantaneous and complete cleansing.”
“In the antiseptic cleanliness of modern hospitals, we lose sight of the wonder of the parable of Jesus in all his purity stooping to touch the ugliness and stench of our sin to bring healing and forgiveness” (Cole).
Pause for a moment and take in the wonder and magnificence of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the first century, contact with the leper made the toucher unclean and defiled. The Lord Jesus Christ was undaunted. He was willing to incur defilement in order that the defiled leper might become clean and whole. “The whole of the gospel is here in a nutshell: Christ redeems us from the curse by becoming under a curse for our sake Galatians 3:13” (Cole).
Because of modern medicine and science advances, we no longer have to live with physical leprosy. But of far greater importance, because of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, we do not have to live with the spiritual leprosy of remorse and a guilty conscience.
If you are willing to be made whole, He is more than willing to make you whole.
Shackled by a heavy burden, ‘Neath a load of guilt and shame.
Then the hand of Jesus touched me, and now I am no longer the same.
He touched me, Oh He touched me, and oh the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened and now I know, He touched me and made me whole.
Since I met this blessed Savior, since He cleansed and made me whole,
I will never cease to praise Him; I’ll shout it while eternity rolls (Bill Gaither, 1963).
O what a wonderful, wonderful day – day I will never forget; After I’d wandered in darkness away, Jesus my Saviour I met.
O what a tender, compassionate friend – He met the need of my heart; Shadows dispelling, with joy I am telling, He made all the darkness depart.
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul, when at the cross the Saviour made me whole; my sins were washed away – and my night was turned to day – heaven came down and glory filled my soul (John W. Peterson)!
© Dr. H 2022