Read: Matthew 8:1-4
And Jesus stretched out his hand . . . (v. 3)
The man who approached Jesus after his Sermon on the Mount was a hopeless case. Leprosy, with its hideous symptoms, was incurable. Those who suffered from it were unclean—literally untouchable—and were forced to warn off passersby lest they also become infected. In Scripture, leprosy is a symbol of the ultimate defilement, sin. So there was a real point to this man’s hesitant statement, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean” (v. 2). This man had no doubt about Jesus’ ability to heal. The only question in his mind was whether Jesus was willing.
Jesus’ response was immediate. He “stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will; be clean.’” Jesus didn’t have to touch people to make them well. So why did he do that to this particular man? Isn’t it obvious? The leper had wondered whether Jesus would be willing to heal him, to have contact with him, to get involved in his messy life and its gross problems. The touch was the answer. Jesus touched the man to show him that not only was he willing, but that no one was too off-putting for him to care.
In his comment on this story, John Calvin observes that in the incarnation Jesus did far more than just reach out and touch us. He climbed into our flesh so that he could cleanse us from all defilement and pour his holiness over us. None of us is untouchable to him. —David Bast
As you pray, give thanks that Christ’s love touches you and his blood cleanses you.
About the Author
Rev. Dave Bast retired as the President and Broadcast Minister of Words of Hope in January 2017, after 23 years with the ministry. Prior to his ministry and work at Words of Hope, Dave served as a pastor for 18 years in congregations in the Reformed Church in America. He is the author of several devotional books. A graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, he has also studied at both the Fuller and Calvin seminaries. Dave and his wife, Betty Jo, have four children and four grandchildren. Dave enjoys reading, growing tomatoes, and avidly follows the Detroit Tigers.