The second half of Mark 5 contains two remarkable stories. Jairus, a leader in the Synogogue, comes to Jesus out of desperation after his daughter is found to be gravely ill. Jesus immediately responds and sets out for Jairus’ home. While on the way, a woman reaches out and touches his cloak. She herself had been suffering for years and thought that just a touch of his cloak would make her well. Jesus turns and identifies the woman and she is healed! By the time they reach Jairus’ home, the little girl has passed away and all appears pointless. However, Jesus goes into her room, takes her by the hand, and restores her life and health. Two stories of healing…two stories of Jesus’ power…two stories of Jesus’ compassion…two stories that involve touch.
We are people who need touch. Even those of us with personal space issues! Even those of us who aren’t very “touch-feely.” There is something inside of each of us that cries out for physical interaction: a handshake, a high-five, a hug. As we read the Gospels, we find that Jesus is very “high touch.” He doesn’t just “do ministry” from a distance with miracles, words, and gestures…he gets up close, personal, and communicates his love and compassion through touch. It’s a constant challenge, in a society that is very skeptical and “anti touch,” to find appropriate and meaningful ways to communicate care and concern. But, in the end, we all need a touch from somebody who cares…
Another thing I notice in these stories is that Jesus is willing to be touched. You see, we tend to keep the most valuable things in life behind glass. Try and touch a Monet in a museum and see what happens. Jesus’ coming in the manner in which He did was puzzling, even distasteful, for many to consider—that God Himself would enter into a human body, would walk amongst common people, would surround Himself with so much that was unclean and would allow Himself to be held, touched, bruised, rejected, mocked and eventually killed. What kind of God does that? Doesn’t that lessen and degrade who He is? Doesn’t it profane the very name and nature of God? Not at all! For Jesus, redemption wasn’t something to be done from afar, neat and orderly, disconnected from the sin and struggle of His people. Our God entered in and allowed Himself to be touched!
As we approach the cross and the empty tomb, do you know His touch? Not just His touch to awaken and save you but His daily walking with you, comforting and guiding, confronting and challenging, leading and directing…His entering into your world! Don’t reduce Him to being a distant bystander in your life, confusing distance for respect and irreverence—Allow Him to enter in!
Mike Bill is the Associate Pastor at Sharptown UMC and dean of Junior High 2 at Delanco Camp. Image credit: Aaron Watt, via CreationSwap