Matthew 8:1 When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; 2 and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” 3 He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Jesus has just finished his famous “sermon on the mount” and as he’s coming down from the mountain he encounters a leper who asks to be healed. Now, one would assume Jesus didn’t necessarily have to touch the man to heal him. If you keep reading in chapter 11 you’ll read about a Roman centurion whose ill servant Jesus healed from a distance. Jesus never even laid eyes on the servant yet the healing was accomplished. However, in this case, Jesus chooses to touch the man and heal him.
Touching a leper was a no-no for ancient Israel as lepers were considered ritually unclean. Yet Jesus, as an act of love, broke the rules and touched the man. This is just one example of why Jesus confused the authorities of his day. There was no doubt he exhibited great spiritual power from God, yet he also did “ungodly” things – like touch a leper or eat with tax-collectors or befriend prostitutes.
Jesus repeatedly refused to conform to the “rules” if love required breaking them.
Over the years I’ve come to appreciate Jesus’ defiance of conventions, especially when “love” was at stake. Has me thinking this morning about the unloved or untouchable persons in our world today. I wonder where the call of the gospel may be pushing me and the church I lead to touch some lepers. Lord give me eyes to see and ears to hear. Amen.