40 A man with leprosy[f] came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
41 Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
I’ve read this passage many times over the years, but it recently struck me just how shocking Jesus’ actions truly are. Leprosy made a person “unclean”; they could not enter the temple; they were cut off from worship; if you touched someone with leprosy, you were considered unclean as well. Jesus, God in human form, touched this unclean man. He didn’t have to. He could have simply said “Be clean” and not taken that extra step, but instead, He touched him. That was earth shattering, unthinkable, amazing. Holy God touching unholy, unclean man and making him right, making straight what had been made crooked.
The implications for us today can sometimes be difficult to consider. We don’t have the worship regulations of the Old Testament because of what Christ did on the cross; He’s made us clean, right before God (Acts 10:15). But I do think our society has people that, in a way, are considered “unclean”. It’s probably a bit of a stretch, and maybe not what you would assume, but bear with me. These that we consider unclean, these people we try and disassociate ourselves from at all costs, are the socially awkward, the weird, the rude, the unintelligent, the annoying…the bigots. Think about it. Or rather, let me think about it. Upon my high horse of either self-righteousness (in the case of the bigots and the like) or fear of being seen as socially awkward myself (in the case of the social outcasts) I do everything I can to separate myself from them. I might snicker at a dorky comment, divert my eyes when they speak with me, gossip about a wrong they’ve committed, but whatever I do, I *do not* touch them. After all, I wouldn’t want to be associated with *those people*, right?
It’s ugly, disgusting, but very true. I treat others as if they are unclean because I don’t want to become “unclean” myself. But Jesus touched the unclean, He reached into their lives to make them right, to make *me* right. God is convicting me a lot lately about this sort of thing. It really hurts, but so does digging out a splinter. I’m thankful for the work He’s doing and I’m praying that it will make me merciful and gracious to those who don’t deserve it and who may never show me kindness (or get a social clue ;-P). I myself don’t deserve grace, but it’s been given to me, and that in itself should spur me on toward love and good deeds.