“Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed” (Matthew 8:3).
The Mosaic law forbade the Jews from touching lepers, because they were unclean (Lev. 5:3) and would expose healthy people to ceremonial and physical contamination. But lepers, in their social ostracism, yearned for even a brief, up-close contact with another person besides a fellow leper.
Jesus could have healed this man with just a single word, but He made a point of touching him. This action was truly amazing—not in a spectacular, sensational manner, but simply because the Son of Man would lovingly reach out and reach down to touch an outcast of outcasts as no one else would.
The Lord bestowed instantaneous healing: “immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” When He touched the man’s defiled body, his disease simply disappeared. (Christ could have chosen to heal in stages, as He sometimes did [Mark 8:22–26; John 9:6–7], but there was no necessity to do so.) The picture for the eyewitnesses would have been dramatic. A bent-over, withered derelict, with skin ravaged by scaly, ugly sores, would suddenly stand up. His limbs were now perfectly normal, his face smooth and unscarred, his eyes clear and bright, and his voice strong and confident.
Modern medical science, with all its wonderful expertise and abilities to cure, can never equal the miraculous restoration Jesus provided.
Are there certain people you are wary of touching—either by physical embrace or even eye contact? What gives us the right of being too good or polished or educated or privileged to look lovingly into the face of another, to offer ourselves and our acceptance?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008.