Kiley leaped at the chance to go to a remote area of East Africa to assist a medical mission, yet she felt uneasy. She didn’t have any medical experience. Still, she could provide basic care.
While there, she met a woman with a horrible but treatable disease. The woman’s distorted leg repulsed her, but Kiley knew she had to do something. As she cleaned and bandaged the leg, her patient began crying. Concerned, Kiley asked if she was hurting her. “No,” she replied. “It’s the first time anyone has touched me in nine years.”
Leprosy is another disease that can render its victims repulsive to others, and ancient Jewish culture had strict guidelines to prevent its spread: “They must live alone,” the law declared. “They must live outside the camp” (Lev. 13:46).
That’s why it’s so remarkable that a leper approached Jesus to say, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean” (Matt. 8:2). “Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ ” (v. 3).
In touching a lonely woman’s diseased leg, Kiley began to show the fearless, bridge-building love of Jesus. A single touch made a difference.
Lord, we want to show the fearless love You showed when You walked this earth.
What difference might we make if we overcome our fears and trust God to use us?
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Do you wonder what it would feel like to be an “untouchable”? Or do you know all too well what it means to be avoided like the plague, either from your own experience or through the pain of someone you love? If you’ve felt the sting of exclusion, then you probably can feel empathy for the leper who reached out to Jesus. Until that day, this man would have had to live on the outside of normal relationships and society. According to ancient ceremonial rules, “Those who suffer from a serious skin disease must . . . cover their mouth and call out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as the serious disease lasts, they . . . must live in isolation in their place outside the camp” (Lev. 13:45–46
Such social isolation, however, wasn’t the worst part. In first-century Israel, lepers were regarded as rejected by God. So imagine what it must have meant when Jesus reached out to a desperate person who probably hadn’t felt a human touch for years. Every time Jesus performed a miracle of healing, He gave credibility to His words and showed hopeless, suffering, and even untouchable people that God knew and loved them.