Summary: The ultimate good in life is when we are liberated, let loose to become such lovers of God that we surprise ourselves by loving those whom God loves.
“Seeing Humanity Through Jesus’ Eyes”
By: Rev. Kenneth E. Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church,
Newport News, VA
Both in our Old Testament Lesson and in our Gospel Lesson for this morning we come face to face with the disease of Leprosy, and in the Bible there is no disease regarded with more terror and no persons more ostracized by society than lepers.
Leprosy rendered the sufferers unclean.
They were banished from being able to interact with others; they had to live outside the city, and as they moved around they were required to warn others of their polluted presence with the cry: “Unclean, unclean!”
What a horrifying existence!
Lepers not only had to bear the physical pain of their disease, they also had to bear the mental anguish and the heartbreak of being completely cut-off from human society and being totally shunned.
This was according to the Jewish Law.
But as we see in our Gospel Lesson for this morning, a man with leprosy broke the Law by running up to Jesus and begging Him to make him clean or cure him.
And here we have a very revealing picture of how Jesus sees humanity.
He didn’t drive the man away who had broken the law.
Instead, Jesus was “Filled with compassion” for the man.
“Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.”
And with the touch of Jesus’ hand, the man was made clean and the leprosy left him!
This past week in our Disciple I class that Virginia is teaching, we did an overview of the Book of Matthew and found that Jesus was much more concerned with mercy or the moral law of love than the Ceremonial Law.
For Jesus, people and relationships are more important than rituals and legalism.
And holiness, for our Lord, is a holiness that breaks down barriers between people.
Jesus would not allow the Law of the land to crush compassion, and when it came to choosing one over the other…
…Jesus chose compassion!
And it was the compassion of Christ that caused Him to stretch out His hand and touch and cure the leper!
We can’t think very long about Jesus Christ without marveling over all the people He stretched out His hand to touch and thus make clean or whole!
He took children into His arms; He laid hands on them and blessed them.
He grasped the hand of the panicking Peter, who was sinking into the Sea of Galilee…
…and He gently cleansed the feet of His disciples…
…and instructed us to do the same for one another.
Beyond a doubt, one of the reasons Jesus was eventually put to death was because He touched all the wrong people.
Jesus could have healed the man with leprosy at a distance, but instead, Jesus overcame this man’s isolation and touched Him!
And this touching of suffering humanity is an action that we are confronted with again and again in the gospels.
Nothing less than a personal touch with the person in need will satisfy Jesus.
We have one or two cases on record that show Christ’s power to heal at a distance, but in the great majority of cases Jesus healed with a personal touch.
Do we have a personal touch?
This is what we are called to have.
Jesus says: “As you go proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.”
A wealthy Western woman visited Mother Teresa in Calcutta and offered to write a check to support the work of the Sisters of Charity.
But Mother Teresa declined: “I won’t take your money.”
The woman insisted, reminding Mother Teresa that she had great resources to donate.
But Mother Teresa still said, “No money.”
Exasperated, the woman stammered, “Well, what can I do?”
Mother Teresa said, “Come and see.”
She led the woman by the hand down into a dreadful shelter…
…found a desperately dirty, hungry child, and asked the woman to take care of him.
The woman took a cloth and a water basin and bathed the child.
Then she spooned cereal into the child’s mouth.
The woman reported later that her life was changed!
She became part of something that money could not buy or fix or replace.
She took care of the child on a human, personal and tangible level.
Have we become part of something that money cannot buy, fix or replace?
Sometimes our hands must become dirty in order to represent Christ to the world!…
…in order to see our fellow human beings through the eyes of Christ!
In his book: Caring, Feeling, Touching, Sidney Simon, a teacher at the University of Massachusetts, speaks of a “skin hunger” that is felt by all of us.