I want to look at one of many of the radical acts Jesus performed during His time here on earth.
It is not radical because it was a miracle. It is not radical because He healed someone.
It is radical because He touched someone.
Not just anyone. Jesus touched an untouchable.
Jesus touched a leper.
For this one, it is all about context.
According to Leviticus, there were very strict guidelines regarding leprosy and other skin diseases.
Typically, if a person contracts some sort of skin disease, they must be examined by the priest and, depending on the severity of the disease, the person may have to be quarantined for seven days before another examination can be performed (Leviticus 13).
We also see that Miriam, Moses’s sister, was struck suddenly with leprosy for daring to speak out against the LORD and His servant, Moses. The LORD commanded that Miriam be kept outside of the camp for seven days before she was allowed back in (Numbers 12).
Now, the reason for the quarantine and the extreme measures should be obvious: to prevent further contamination of the person or other people, particularly if there is an open sore on the body.
However, in the context of Jesus and the leper, things are quite different.
We first see that the man is not quarantined. In fact, he is out and about with the people, possibly even trading with them, touching them. Luke states that Jesus met this man in one of the villages (Luke 5:12).
Why was he in the village? Why did the local Pharisees allow this man to be out of quarantine and risk contaminating the entire village?
That is something for another time.
For right now, let’s focus on Jesus and the leper.
This man had an advanced case of leprosy, according to Luke. So, there were sores and white spots all over this man’s body. He may have even had open sores.
This leper approaches Jesus, knowing full well His reputation, and says, “…if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean” (5:12).
Now, Jesus could have done anything at this point.
He could have condemned the man.
He could have pointed out the fact that the man was not in quarantine.
The Son of God could have made this man feel like the monster he most likely resembled.
He could have turned around and walked away.
But He didn’t.
He healed the man.
And in spectacular fashion.
At this point in most peoples’ experiences with Jesus, it would be well known that if Jesus simply said something, it would happen. His disciples knew the power of the words of Jesus.
Therefore, Jesus could have just said, “Be healed”, and gone on His merry way and the man would have been healed.
But He didn’t.
He touched Him.
The Son of God reached out and touched a man covered in boils, scars and open sores and healed him.
That is something radical.
It was radical for the leper who got touched and it is radical for us today.
We are repulsive creatures.
We may not be covered with scars and sores and boils on the outside, but our souls are defiled and stained and dirty and disgusting. All the good things we do, all of our righteousness, are filthy rags.
We are disgusting creatures, covered in sin, shame, dirt, and the blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
And we can come to Jesus.
We can be the most disgusting, vile creatures in the world, and Jesus would still touch us and heal us.
The world may run from us, find us repulsive and disgusting because of our past and the life we chose to lead.
Like the father of the prodigal son, Jesus would see us coming home, covered in dirt and mud and pig filth and other disgusting things, and He would run to us and wrap His arms around us.
He would touch us.
He would heal us.
He would make us clean.