Summary: We were like the leper wanting someone to touch us and to love us when we were so unlovable.
The Touch Of The Master’s Hand
Mt. 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45,
There is little said about this leper, it’s almost as if God the Holy Spirit decided at the last moment to include this account. But we know nothing is ever done or said in the Bible that is not important to his people. We are told so little it makes us to wonder what it was that God wants us to see?
I. The Tradgedy Of The Disease:
The physical distruction of the body is terrible. It is a disease that works quietly, painlessly, somewhat slowly, but always deadly. There are two kinds of leprosy both are deadly and equally distructive. We live in an age that recognizes leprosy only as a word. We have never seen the horror of someone mutalated beyond recognition and still walking.
One type of leprosy has a life expectancy of ten years, the other of twenty years. But even ten years of sleeping in the city’s dump with other lepers would appear to be far too long to the individual. They have been reduced down to animals having to find food in the garbage that others had thrown out. Sleeping in the cold huddled together with other lepers trying to stay warm.
A life you and I cannot understand and we don’t want to. We want to imagine that without feeling pain it should be alright, but imagine if you will the loss of fingers and toes. And each time you experience one loss of knowing there shall be more.
Most of us are vain in certain areas. I remember my brother-in-law telling about losing his front teeth because he hadn’t taken care of himself with diabetes. My heart went out to him just hearing the story after he had gotten false teeth to replace them.
As bad as we might feel over the loss of our teeth is nothing compared to the poor leper? One type of leprosy was identified by the shining white patches which burst; bone by bone drops off; the skin is mummy like; the lips hang down exposing the teeth and gums. The leper soon began to look hideous so noone wanted to touch him if they were allowed.
What would it be like to lose a finger, a part of an ear; maybe your whole hand would just fall off. I don’t believe you and I can even realize or imagine such a thing for it’s really too painful.
Joseph Damien was a missionary in the nineteenth century who served as minister to people with leprosy on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. Those suffering grew to love him and revered the sacrificial life he lived out before them.
One morning before Joseph was to lead them in their daily worship, he was pouring some hot water into a cup when the water swirled out and fell onto his bare foot. It took him a moment to realize that he had not felt any sensation. Gripped by the sudden fear of what this could mean, he poured more hot water on the same spot. No feeling whatsoever.
Damien immediately knew what had happened. As he walked tearfully to deliver his sermon, no one at first noticed the difference in his opening line. He normally began each sermon with, "My fellow believers." But this morning he began with, "My fellow lepers."
The law in Jesus day were very strict on a leper. He was to be cast out of the camp. His clothing was to be ripped into rags to show he was a leper. He wore a bell around his neck to warn people of his coming. But even with the bell he must cover his mouth and cry out unclean, unclean. Once the priest declared a person to be unclean with leprosy he was considered to be a dead man.
He had no rights whatsoever; if he had a business it was taken from him. He became a nobody, he was shunned by everyone that seen him.
He was not allowed to touch another person unless it was another leper. He must live his life isolated from others. He could not live at home and he could not even touch his own wife or children. And he could not work or own any type of business.
Could you or I imagine seeing our loved only from long distance. Watching from afar as our children played. Seeing our wife going to the market and not being able to go up to her and speak, much less embrace her or kiss her? The leper was not only cast out legally but he was socially outcast. He no longer had friends he could visit and talk to. They were afraid of him as was his wife and children.