Scripture Reading: Mark 1:40-45, Matthew 8:14-15, Luke 14:1-4, Luke 22:50-51, John 4:46-54
A skin disease, healed. A fever, touched away. A lost ear, quickly replaced. Seemingly chance encounters became life-altering miracles in Jesus’ presence. Power was oozing out of Him, and no one could stop it if they tried, though some certainly did their best.
Sometimes I wonder if, for Jesus, performing miracles was like breathing. Every few moments, my chest expands and contracts, taking in oxygen, transforming it, and putting it out in the world again as a different substance. Jesus inhaled and exhaled, and the blind could see and the lame could walk and the near-dead became fully alive. Lungs breathe because they’re lungs. Jesus heals because He’s the Healer.
So why did He reach out His hand to touch the leper? Why did He touch Peter’s mother-in-law to free her body of fever? Why did He touch the high priest’s servant’s ear rather than simply order it to reattach? We’ve seen how He can speak a storm to stillness or fill a net with fish, all without so much as lifting a finger. But time and time again in the Gospels, Jesus chooses to heal by touch. Why is that?
The story of the leper in Mark 1 gives us a clue. Read again with me the exchange:
Then a man with a serious skin disease came to Him and, on his knees, begged Him: “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched him. “I am willing,” He told him. “Be made clean.” Immediately the disease left him, and he was healed (Mark 1:40-43).
Do you see it? It’s love. Jesus used touch to heal because of love.
It is the kind of love that looks at an untouchable beggar and is moved with compassion. The kind of love that, with a resounding yes, is willing to enter into our sickness and grief. The kind of love that brims with mercy, that would lay down self and die for literally everyone other than Himself. This is the kind of love only Christ can give. This is the love with which Jesus touched and healed those He came to save.
To be in Christ’s presence is to be changed (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). Sometimes that meant physically. Sometimes—many times—Jesus saw fit to make illness and injury disappear like that storm on the Galilean sea. And we have to assume, for reasons we’ll never understand this side of glory, that sometimes He didn’t. Sometimes He doesn’t. But His presence is no less glorious, no less affecting, no less healing if the wound or ailment remains. Love is who He is. Healing is what He does. It’s how and when He heals that’s the question; and that, like so many other things, we must leave to Him (Isaiah 55:8-9).
But here’s what we do know: He loves us. He loves us with a love that cannot be comprehended by our limited, yet remarkable, brains, with a love that cannot be conquered by anyone or anything, including death itself. Our illness and injury—be it physical, mental, or emotional—is utterly incapable of keeping us from the Savior’s love. This is His promise to us (Romans 8:35-39).
We beg, “If you’re willing, make me clean.” And He always, always answers, “I am willing. Be made clean.”