When you and I talk about touching lives, we are most likely talking about a metaphorical touch of words or actions that transforms people’s lives. Very seldom does our “touching people’s lives” mean a physical touch. Yet it is the physical sense of touch that is so crucial in a world where many people live lives of loneliness and isolation, and never get touched. Some dare to even opine that some human beings are “untouchable.” And by all common sense standards some people are in certain conditions—for example those stricken with leprosy— that make us think twice before we touch them, lest by touching them we endanger our own lives. But Jesus Christ was in a class all of his own. There was something about His touch—His literal physical touch—that changed lives in such a way that people longed to touch and to be touched by Him. What was it about the touch of Christ that transformed lives, and makes us even today long for direct physical contact with the Son of God and Son of Man? Luke, being a medical doctor, gives us an interesting account about Jesus' ministry, with an emphasis on His touching people.
Jesus did a lot of preaching. But He also did a lot of reaching. When he reached out and touched the leper (Luke 5:13), the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. This was a forbidden thing to do, and according to Jewish law one became defiled if one came into contact with a leper. Jesus broke the mold, touched the man, healed the disease. Then a multitude of people thronged the Lord to touch him, and as many as touched Him were healed of their diseases (Luke 6:19). In Luke 7:14-15 Jesus dares to touch the dead body of a young man, the only son of a widow from Nain. He touches him (or the coffin as some will argue), calls him forth, and the dead man comes to life.
Then Jesus finds Himself dining in the house of the Pharisee, Simon (who Mark tells us was a leper—Mark 14:3-9). Here He is greeted by a woman of ill repute who breaks an alabaster box of ointment upon Jesus and anoints Him with that costly perfume. She is so overwhelmed by Jesus’ presence and His acceptance of her that she weeps profusely, washing Jesus' feet with her tears and, wiping them with her hair, kissing His feet, and them anointing them with the perfume. Simon is inwardly indignant. His problem was that the woman was “touching” Jesus and Jesus did not have a problem with a sinful woman touching Him. How ironic that Simon the leper, though He had a problem with the woman touching Jesus, never dared to touch Jesus himself. He gave him no anointing, no foot washing, no kiss. Neither did he long to touch Jesus to be healed of his leprosy like the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:43-48). This woman in question had the problem of blood flow for twelve years. She could do nothing else but reach out and touch the hem of Jesus’ coat and she was healed instantly by touching Him in faith.
Then again Jesus touches a dead body, this time the daughter of one Jairus, a ruler of a synagogue. He takes the dead damsel by the hand and commands her to arise (Luke 8:54-55). Jairus’ daughter lives again, transformed forever by the touch of Jesus. When a multitude of thousands are languishing with hunger in a secluded place, Jesus touches the five loaves and two fishes, breaks them, they are multiplied, and people are satisfied.
What was it about the touch of Christ that transformed lives, and makes us even today long for direct physical contact with the Son of God and Son of Man? All of this touching of sickness and sin and death, and every time Jesus touches people these conditions are reversed. The people with the malady of sin, sickness, and death are given more than a remedy. They are given life itself. Life is redeemed. What’s more, in all this, Jesus remains unchanged in His holiness and purity, remains unscathed by sin or sickness or death. Defilement and impurity have no hold on Him, rather He has a full hold on them. Whoever Jesus touches is healed, forgiven, and made whole. Sin and death flee and are replaced in the person’s life with Jesus’ holiness and purity, and His life: in this world and in the world to come.
Jesus touches our lives and changes us. It is His touch that can do what no other touch can, because when He touches He changes without Himself being changed. When you and I touch something or someone, we contract something (at least molecularly) of the thing we touch, and are in that sense affected, if not infected by it. Not so with Jesus. His touch is the touch that transforms and gives life. Midas of mythology touched things and all he touched turned to gold. Everyone and everything Jesus touches turns to something more precious than gold— eternal and abundant life. Have you been touched by Jesus? Are you longing to be touched by Him and transformed? Then seek Him. He will gladly touch you. His arm is not shortened today. Today you and I may not feel the physical touch of His hand, but He does touch us. And one day we will be able like Thomas to see those hands that bore the nails, and perhaps even touch them and be touched by them. Till then, those of us who have sensed the touch of Jesus in our lives are to tell of how He touched us and transformed us so that others, on hearing this, will seek to touch but the hem of His garment. And when they do, they will find that He is there to greet them, comfort them, and give them peace (Luke 8:48). We can sing with Bill Gaither,
“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.”
© Kenny Damara 2015