When we receive a safe loving touch from someone it can cause us to feel accepted, cared for, and good. The enjoyment of safe caring touch is a signal of a greater and more beautiful spiritual reality.
Jesus sought out the outcasts, the really bad people who were known for their blatant sinfulness. He was their friend, would engage with them, and touch them. “And as Jesus reclined at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why is your teacher eating with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:10-11). Who would imagine God coming this close? Who would even dare to think He would come to touch untouchable sinners considered unclean?
When we love someone, we touch them. Our shame disappears when we are touched intentionally by love. Not all touch is good; there another kind of touch that has purposeful harm. When we have been cruelly hit by someone who is supposed to love us, something happens in that touch. We feel shame. When we are touched sexually by someone, we did not want to touch us, we discover that the effects linger longer than the original physical touch. Unfortunately, the touch creates a deep shame association and mares the image of God in us. This is difficult to break. The spiritual wounding cannot be broken apart from good touch that eradicates the effects of the old.
Jesus specializes in a lot of good touching. He invites the intentional touch of the lame, blind, leprous, discarded, and sinful. “When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying. “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed” (Matthew 8:1-3). There might have been a crowd of people pressing in on Jesus, but he stops to touch the leper. He could have said a word and healed the leper, He purposefully reached out to touch him. This would render Jesus ceremonially unclean. Jesus could have avoided this problem, but that was not part of his plan.
When we put ourselves in the shoes of the leper, we know our disease is easily spread by touch, leaving us an untouchable outcast, all alone, feeling utterly worthless. Do we have the courage to speak up believing Jesus can heal? If you believe what He says and speak up, He will touch you with His healing hands. We read story after story in the gospels of Jesus’ willingness to touch others with healing. In Luke 8:42-48 we read the story of a woman who had been sick for 12 years with bleeding. She was deemed unclean and clearly an untouchable. She reaches out to touch Jesus in the crowd and Jesus feels the power going out of Him. The woman became fearful when she saw she was not hidden; she came trembling and falling down before him, declaring in the presence of all the people why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. Jesus said to her that her faith had made her well. Jewish law prevented her from touching others, but her desperation made her reach out to touch Him.
We learn that desperation is one of the main ingredients of faith. Faith is admitting that we can’t heal ourselves and Jesus in the only Healer. Are we willing to contaminate Jesus with our touch? Are we desperate enough to realize He invites us to touch Him? Jesus calls the woman a woman of faith; we are to imitate her, hear the questions Jesus askes, and confess publicly why we need to touch Him. Do not fear: He is the Holy One, and holiness has great power over the untouchable.
All of us untouchables give something to Jesus, the scapegoat. The woman gave Jesus her sin, shameful acts, victimization, disease and all of its contamination. He takes our sin and absorbs our shame (Psalm 69:9; Romans 15:3). He gives us His holiness, cleansing, healing and forgiveness.
Touching Jesus says, “I need You; I can’t do this myself.” The faith to reach out and touch is the evidence of supernatural power going to work in us. Shame is deadly because it is self-protective unbelief. Shame hides. Shame causes us to feel undeserving of anything good. Shame believes we are going to contaminate anything we touch.
We long to touch Jesus, because we understand with Him our salvation is near. We know we are dirty and shameful because of all of what we have done, or what has been done to us. We think we can’t reach out and touch Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to give us the power to lift our hands. He will answer that prayer and lift our hands to touch the one who died to take all of our shame. Join the men and woman of faith who purposely and courageously reach out with faith to touch Him. What keeps you from running toward Him to touch Him?