Summary: 3 of 10 of the series Supernatural Transformation. From the story of Jesus’ encounter with a leper we learn the powerful healing that was done not only by Jesus’ words but also by His touch.
THE TOUCH THAT HEALS
Read at beginning of service:
Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
For the last two weeks I’ve been speaking about Supernatural Transformation. A transformation that God wants to work in all of our lives. It is important to understand – as I’ve emphasized the last two Sundays – that the key to transformation centers on the Heart of Christ. God wants to transform our hearts to be like His heart! I believe that as we fix our eyes on Christ we are able to see His heart in action and recognize areas of our heart that need to be replaced by His heart. There is an interesting statement I found that illustrates the kind of transformation that God wants to take place in our hearts.
God’s desire for us to be transformed can be better understood through the use of a thermometer and a thermostat. We are being conformed to the world when we live as a thermometer and simply reveal the climate around us. Transformation means living like a thermostat so that God works through you to set the climate of the environment in which you live. (TRANSFORMATION, Autoillustrator.com)Think about this statement for a minute. God wants to work through YOU to change the climate of the environment in which you live. And He does this by changing your heart.
When Jesus walked this planet it was quite evident by His life that he lived like a thermostat – not a thermometer. You find that even though Jesus went where the "sinners" were – He did not reflect the environment that He was in but instead affected change in the hearts that many considered hopeless cases. And He still does this today.
Last week we talked about a characteristic of Christ’s heart that when applied to our hearts proves essential in freeing us from the pain, bitterness, rage, and anger towards others for what they have done to us. It frees us from the trapped feeling of being "stuck" with someone. It frees us from the injuries and emotional scars that relive themselves in the screen of our minds. It is not fleeing, it is not fighting, it is forgiving. Christ has a heart of forgiveness and when we give Him freedom to plant forgiveness in our hearts allowing us to forgive as He has forgiven we are now able to experience the release of the hold "stuckititis" (unforgiveness) has had on our lives. Forgiveness is the characteristic that brings freedom in our own lives.
Today, I’d like to talk about a characteristic of Christ’s heart that goes hand in hand with forgiveness. Whereas forgiveness is the characteristic that helps the pain we carry – compassion helps the pain others carry.
To illustrate the compassion found in Jesus’ heart we are going to look at the story found in Matthew 8:1-4.
Matthew 8:1-4 (NIV)
1 When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." 3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, "See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
At first glance this story is yet another account of a remarkable, miraculous encounter between a person in need of healing and Jesus Christ. The New Testament is filled with such encounters and as we read this story we often catalogue it away in our minds, "Yup, uh-huh, here we go – another one – the crowds followed Jeus…yada-yada-yada and poof Miracle number 165!"
But we must remember that to us what is merely a miraculous healing is to the man a life-changing love-filled compassionate touch.
Think about this for a minute – what would this man who had leprosy have felt when Jesus reached out and not only healed him but touched Him. To help us have a little bit more insight into what has happened in this story I’d like to read Max Lucado’s thoughts about what this man’s life story might have been.
For five years no one touched me. No one. Not one person. Not my wife. Not my child. Not my friends. No one touched me. They saw me. They spoke to me. I sensed love in their voices. I saw concern in their eyes. But I didn’t feel their touch. There was no touch. Not once. No one touched me.
What is common to you, I coveted. Handshakes. Warm embraces. A tap on the shoulder to get my attention. A kiss on the lips to steal a heart. Such moments were taken from my world. No one touched me. No one bumped into me. What I would have given to be bumped into, to be caught in a crowd, for my shoulder to brush against another’s. But for five years it has not happened. How could it? I was not allowed on the streets. Even the rabbis kept their distance from me. I was not permitted in a synagogue. Not even welcome in my own house.