No Need for a Pole

While he was in one of the towns, a man was there who had a serious skin disease all over him. He saw Jesus, fell facedown, and begged Him: “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Reaching out His hand, He touched him, saying, “I am willing; be made clean,” and immediately the disease left him. Then He ordered him to tell no one: “But go and show yourself to the priest, and offer what Moses prescribed for your cleansing as a testimony to them.”

But the news about Him spread even more, and large crowds would come together to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed. On one of those days while He was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea, and also from Jerusalem. (Luke 5:12–17)

Sometimes we say “I wouldn’t touch that with a ten foot pole,” but Jesus never let poles come between him and the people who needed him. In India, those of the lowest class were called the “untouchables.” The upper classes would have nothing to do with them. In ancient Israel, lepers were the “untouchables.” People avoided them out of fear of becoming a leper themselves. To be a leper meant losing your friends, your family, and everything that mattered to you. You were, for all practical purposes, dead.

But when an unnamed leper begged Jesus for healing, Jesus wasn’t afraid. Jesus touched him. And he touched him while he was still a leper. He reached out to a man that no one would reach out to. He reached out to him where he was, as he was. And then, after he reached out to him, he healed him of his affliction.

As was so common, Jesus told the man to tell no one what had happened, but to simply follow the law of Moses which prescribed how a leper, who had been healed, could have that healing certified by the religious leaders. Once his healing was certified, he could rejoin the society from which he’d been excluded. He could have his life back.

Jesus is not afraid to touch us, no matter who we are or how worthy we may think we are of being forever excluded. Jesus was willing to touch the untouchable. No matter how big a mess we think we’ve made of our lives, Jesus is always ready to reach out to help us clean it up.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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