Week Three of the 52 Week Challenge! Wow! Reading through the midsection of Jesus' ministry provides so much depth that it's hard to choose the one thought to share here. However, throughout the many interactions in this week's reading, one word kept surfacing, "touch." To say that Jesus was and is a hands-on Savior is an understatement. Once He began His public ministry, throngs of people surrounded Him daily and He welcomed them, even when He was tired (Mark 6:31-34) and grieving (Matthew 14:13-14).
The Master of the Universe, Son of God, invited humanity close, really close. And not just the pretty people either. Not just the cleaned up "got it all together" kind of folks. Rather, incredible crowds of sick, physically disabled, demon-possessed, ragged pieces of humanity sought the Great Physician. And He healed them. Lots of them. Lepers, deaf, blind, and all manner of sicknesses the Savior healed.
With the simple power of His words alone, He was able to heal. When the Centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant, Jesus simply said, "It shall be done." And it was. He cast out demons with a single word, "Go," and they obeyed. Even the winds tossing about the boat ceased at His command. (Read Matthew 8 for these whole stories.)
What Power! Power to command illnesses, evil spirits, and the forces of nature at a word.
But this is about touch.
So, the Master clearly has the authority to command whatever He wills and to simply speak the words. That is enough. Yet, consider these.
Did He have to touch these sick people to make them well? Clearly not. Just look back at the Centurion's servant. So why did He? Why did Jesus touch germy, contagious, messy people?
My sweet husband has had a cold all week. I'm trying to care for him, but I'm keeping my distance. I don't want to get sick. I've got things to do. I can't be slowed down by risking my own health.
You with me?
So why did Jesus touch?
I do not claim to have complete understanding of Jesus' motives and thoughts behind all that He did or said. However, within these same passages for this week's readings is another key word, compassion. "Seeing the people, He had compassion for them because they were distressed and dispirited." (Matthew 9:36). "When He went ashore He saw a great crowd and He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd." (Mark 6:34).
Our all powerful Savior has compassion for us, sick, messy as we are.
And He touched them.
And they responded.
They came to Him. They reached out and touched Him. The woman with the bleeding issue ((Matthew 9:18), the many sick at Gennesaret (Matthew 14:36), all of them reasoned, "If I can just touch even the hem of His garment, I will be made well." They recognized His power. They wanted to be close and to be healed.
So, where does this touch our lives today?
This same Jesus that reached out in very personal ways reaches out to us. He is eager to be close to His family. He calls His followers his brothers, sisters, and mother (Matthew 12:50). It's personal. It is intimate. It is connected.
He reaches out.
And we respond.
And He heals.
Want to read along? Here is the schedule I'm using.