In the Bible, there was no disease regarded with more terror than leprosy because of how much damage it did and because it was so highly contagious.
According to Leviticus 13 the Leper was banished from fellowship with people, and had to live alone outside of the camp as well as wear torn clothes. The worst part is that he had to cry “Unclean, Unclean!”, warning people he was around.
He was not only physically sick, but had to bear the mental anguish of a life of isolation being totally banished from society: treated as though dead. A leper was hated by others until he came to hate himself. Many considered and took their own lives – SUICIDE.
During the time of Jesus the leper was barred from Jerusalem. In the synagogue there was a room set aside for them alone. It was ten feet high by six feet wide. If a leper put his head in a house, the whole house was considered and deemed to be defiled.
In public it was illegal to greet a leper. People had to stay at least six feet away. And, if the wind was blowing at least one hundred and fifty feet away; what an embarrassment!
Besides the hurt from the physical pain was the mental pain of embarrassment, isolation, and loneliness connected with the disease. Real leprosy was incurable; BUT if he was cured, he had to go through a very complicated and embarrassing ceremony of restoration (Lev. 14).
In the Bible in MARK 1:40-45 is the story of Jesus healing a leper. I personally think that it is one of the most revealing pictures of Jesus. Jesus reacted and moved with compassion as he saw the agony, stretched out His hand, and TOUCHED the leper!
The law stated that Jesus must avoid contact by staying at least six feet away because any closer and Jesus ran a desperate risk of an infection. And yet Jesus stretched out His hand and TOUCHED the leper.
What was Jesus thinking? In that culture, Jesus risked breaking the Jewish laws, losing His place in the synagogue, as well as getting leprosy Himself which oftentimes resulted in death.
Jesus did not drive away a man who broke the law. For Jesus there was only one law: TO LOVE. For Jesus there was only one response: TO HELP.
The obligation of love superseded the law, rules, and regulations. Human need was met with understanding and compassion, and Jesus stretched out His hand and TOUCHED the leper!
Jesus stretched out His hand and touched the leper to show us what the FATHER is really like so we can understand that this is how we, too, will be treated when we come to the Father.
The law led people to believe that God hated lepers & sinners. After all, look at how God said to treat them in Leviticus. But that is looking through the eyes of the law. He loved life and that is why He quarantined the lepers. And it was the Father’s mercy that produced compassion that moved Jesus.
Matthew 9:12-13 “When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
The essence of Christianity is to touch the untouchables, love the unlovable, and to forgive the unforgivable. A true Christian will break convention to take a risk to help a fellow man in need. An example of this is Mother Teresa who was willing to touch the untouchables.
So, who are the untouchables in your community that God wants you to touch? People who are rejected by society who are in your neighborhood, your church or your family; that your life NEVER touches because you choose not to?
Luke 9:54-56 “And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." And they went to another village.”
So, who are the untouchables God wants you to touch? People whose lives are falling apart and their destructive behavior is eating away their life like leprosy?
Matthew 9:36 “But when He (Jesus) saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”
Who are the untouchables God wants you to touch?
- Whom God has been trying to get you to touch
- But your rules have made it easy for you to say “no”
- Your rules have made it easy to keep the at a distance
Who are the untouchables God wants you to touch TODAY as you reach beyond the rules?