The Touch that Transforms - Hope 103.2

The Touch that Transforms

Morning Devotions is for those curious about the Christian faith and who want to explore Christian issues that relate to their daily life.

By Chris WittsThursday 25 Oct 2012Morning Devotions with Chris WittsCultureReading Time: 0 minutes


There’s a really good book worth reading by Dr Paul Brand & Philip Yancey. It’s called “Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants”. For many years,Dr Brand was a pioneering medical missionary doctor and   world-renowned orthopedic specialist and leprosy surgeon. He actually solved a riddle that has plagued the world for centuries; “Do the hands and feet of leprosy-affected people just fall off? What causes the terrible deformities of leprosy? Can anything be done to prevent them or restore the damage?” He lived in India with his missionary parents & returned in 1946. He not only healed those with leprosy,but he taught them carpentry and woodwork. He witnessed terrible suffering,and did all he could to help these people. He saw each leper as a child of God,in spite of their being shunned by others,thrown out of their homes and families – castaways from society.
Philip Yancey tells a few months after opening the physiotherapy unit,Dr Brand was examining the hands of a young man saying he would try and stop this disease and maybe bring some movement to his hand. He had terrible facial deformities,and the doctor joked with him,smiled,and as he laid his hand on the young man’s shoulder said “your face is not so bad; it shouldn’t get any worse if you take the medication. After all,we men don’t have to worry so much about faces. It’s the women who fret over every bump and wrinkle.” He was having a joke,trying to relax the guy  in his distress. Suddenly he started to cry,and Dr Brand thought he had said something wrong. Did he misunderstand him? His assistant spoke Tamil and said “no,Doctor. He says he is crying because you put your hand around his shoulder. Until he came here today,no-one had touched him for many years”. It’s a well  known scientific fact that a friendly touch lowers the stress level  instantly,and people feel better. Here was a well educated,distinguished  doctor taking interest in a patient who was probably poor,had no money,  and came from the lowest part of society. And yet that hand on the shoulder,the touch of friendship and understanding,meant so much to this young man he literally burst into tears.

Luke says in his gospel ch 6 “Everyone was trying to touch Jesus,because power was going out from Him and healing them all”.(v19). Jesus knew He had the power to transform people’s lives,especially the lepers – the outcasts of society – the stigma of being banished away,often from their own families. There was no other disease that was feared like this one. The body often was rotting with a terrible smell …Left to beg,living out of town away from anyone else for fear of others catching the disease.  Laws of that time said they had to keep 6 feet away from anyone  and wear the clothes of a mourner as if he was going to a burial service. They were the living dead. In Matthew 8 Jesus suddenly was confronted by a leper who came & knelt in front of him. He obviously was in a desperate situation. The crowd would have kept away,mouthing their disapproval. He had broken the quarantine rule and approached another person,and it was against the law of Moses to speak to a leper by name. … And yet Jesus put his hand on the man …Jesus sees this poor man and He sees His condition. He does not shrink back in fear from the leper as the rest of the people are doing. He is not repulsed by his appearance or by his smell.        We are told that Jesus is “moved with compassion”. and at once the man’s leprosy disappeared. You see there was no cure for leprosy & death was inevitable. But Jesus broke all the boundaries and reached out in love and compassion and put his hand on the man,in love. There was hope after all .. Jesus did not fear to touch the infected man: I don’t know what that leper expected. Probably to be run off at best and stoned to death at worst. Imagine his surprise when Jesus reached out and touched him! Can you hear the crowd gasp in surprise and shock as they see Jesus reaching out to touch this unclean man? But,oh how glorious that one touch must have felt to this man! If there was any feeling left in his skin it must have felt like nothing he had ever felt before! When Jesus touched this man,His touch said,”I love you just like you are and I am here to help you.” When Jesus touched this man,Jesus entered his world!
Others would never have touched a leper out of fear of contracting the disease themselves. Jesus,the cleanest man in the entire crowd,did not fear defilement,so He touched him without fear.
Jesus  never feared His critics but even if He had,His fear would have been eclipsed by His compassion for the sufferer.

He had no fear of infection because He knew He was in charge. He had absolute confidence in the protection of the Father.