A man with leprosy approaches Jesus and begs to be healed. He’s desperate, in pain and shunned by society. People around Jesus pull back in fear and revulsion. They don’t want to get leprosy, they don’t want to be close to the diseased man. They harbor the thought that this man must have done something, some sort of sin, to deserve this fate.
Jesus, however, responds differently. Moved by compassion, he reaches out and touches the leper! Jesus touched him. No one touches a leper. How long since this man had experienced human touch? How long since someone looked at him with anything besides fear and disgust and slid quickly away?
Jesus touched him. I don’t think it was just a poke. I think that Jesus held the pus-filled sores and made them whole. I wonder what it felt like for the leper as his body was knit back together? Could he feel the sickness leaving? Did it hurt? Itch? Did it take seconds or minutes? Did Jesus smile as he touched the man? Did he laugh as he watched surprise and joy spread across the man’s face?
The leper, now made whole, totally overjoyed, completely disobeyed Jesus’ instructions to keep this incident quiet and told everyone about the touch of Jesus. I love that part. It was too astounding to keep to himself.
The story found in Mark 1:40-45 is told in just a few lines, but for the leper, he told the story the rest of his life. Such are those who’ve experienced the touch of Jesus.