The Untouchables

Lost people matter to God. He wants them found. We can all agree that this is a true statement. And yet, so often we struggle to find the lost. We shouldn’t have to look that hard. They’re everywhere. Jesus didn’t even have to look for them; they came to him. Why is that?

Jesus had an enormous impact on people wherever he went. Sometimes he had to sneak out of town late at night to avoid huge crowds following him everywhere. And though he was a great teacher, it wasn’t his teachings that brought people flocking to him. It was simply his touch.

To understand how important touch was to the people Jesus helped, you have to understand Jewish ritual purity. God gave his people rules on outward purity as a way to express their inward purity. Unfortunately, they became obsessed with the ritual and forgot about the true purity that was supposed to lie underneath. Jesus talks about this using the image of washing the outside of a cup but leaving the inside dirty. (Matthew 23:25-26)

Following these ritual purity laws meant that some people couldn’t be touched. The woman with the bloody discharge in Mark 5, for example, would have been considered unclean. This condition had gone on for 12 years. For over a decade, no one would touch her. And then Jesus touched her (technically, she touched him) and the discharge stopped. She was clean.

In Mark 5, Jesus is on his way to Jairus’s house to heal his daughter when the woman touches him. By the time they get there, the girl is dead. Dead bodies are another source of uncleanness. But Jesus goes in anyway and takes her hand and raises her back to life.

There are many, many more examples like this throughout Jesus’s ministry. He touches the people no one else dares to touch. And he does not become unclean by touching them. Rather, they become clean by touching him. This is the power of Jesus’s touch.

If you want to have real impact on the people around you, look for the untouchables. Look for the ones no one else will help. Look for the addicts and the unemployed and the homeless. You don’t have to worry about becoming unclean through contact with them. By contacting God through you, they can become clean.

Imagine going twelve years as an outcast in society. Then imagine finding someone who isn’t afraid to reach out to you. To people in that situation, you cannot overestimate the power of a simple touch.

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