It is as we journey through the book of Mark that we find God’s power of taking hurt and using it for healing, allowing our spiritual relationship with God to change our temporal relationship with the world around us, but we continue in Mark 1, we find our status has changed, from…
Untouchable to Touched (Mark 1:40-42) 40 A man with leprosy[a] came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” 41 Jesus was indignant.[b] He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
The man with leprosy knew more than the wisest scholar or religious person. He realized his true need! The man with leprosy wasn’t the only hurting person in the crowd, not the only person in need of help, but what set him apart was his recognition of need, and his perseverance to the one who he recognized as powerful. In keeping with the Law in Leviticus, Jewish leaders declared people with leprosy unclean. In their state of uncleanliness, they were untouchable, unable to take part in social or religious activities. Isolated and cut off from God, relationship, and community! As a result some people would throw rocks at them, mock them, and general regard them as less than human! Yet Jesus touched them!
Untouchables just like segregation turned African American, or the India caste system turned an entire block of people into nothing more than wanderers and trash collectors. It is amazing how powerful a touch can be! When you get that bear hug you desperately needed, or in the hospital room someone came and just held your hand. I visited a woman in the hospital a few months ago in the ICU, and when I walked in and held her hand she said something that caught me off guard—“it is nice to be treated as a human again!” It was a more profound thought than she intended it to be, it wasn’t just what I did in that moment, but it is a description of what Christ does for a lifetime—He extends his hand, willing to touch us, hold us, and allow us to be changed through it!
It is only when you are willing to admit your brokenness, that you will experience God’s wholeness! The man “begged,” “implored,” and found compassion waiting! He had a chance to be treated as a human again! As the song goes, many of you have the same weight, you’ve been living with it for years—“shackled by a heavy burden, ‘neath a load of guilt and shame, then the hand of Jesus touched me/ Now I am no longer the same!” You don’t have to keep living in the shadow of regret, under the weight of pain or with the scarlet letter identifying you. Christ reach is not hindered by geography, culture, or decades. You are not too broken, too battered, too anything for Christ to touch you!
Lately, around our house I’ve been finding books laid on tables, resting open on armchairs, the entire tale tell signs that my wife is on a reading binge—reading through the Maze Runner trilogy—the story of a bunch of kids trapped in a changing maze. It would be dangerous to try and touch those books with the binge still in process, but I was tempted this week when I read the title of the 3rd book, one of the most profound and touching titles I’ve ever come across: The Death Cure. The purpose, the strength, and the reach of Christ’s love ultimately rest in the death cure. Jesus Christ didn’t settle for a Long-Distance Relationship, but came to us—giving his life up—so that in death he could defeat death, and in new life, he could usher in our new lives! Jesus didn’t die so that you could live as the walking dead—going through the motions—Jesus offers healing so you can help humanity, so you will have the internal relationship that will change your external conditions, and ultimately so you could no longer be a slave—but could have the shackles of sin to removed, the captivity and slavery brought to an end—find purpose—embrace a strength—and allow Jesus Christ to reach out his hand and transform you!