Touch me and see
I would like to start this session by getting you all involved.
Please turn to person next to you and just say hello.
Ok that wasn’t too hard was it?
Ok now turn to the person next to you and give them a hug
I hope you noticed the different between those two acts. When you just
said hello, there is no touch involved. You do not need to come close to the
Whereas when you give someone a hug, you have to touch them. You feel
them, you smell them, you create a connection between yourself and the other
And because of these things hugging someone will make you closer to that
person that just talking to them.
I mentioned how in our session on hearing, that Jesus knew people. Jesus
knows everything about us. When Jesus met people he knew what to do and what to
say to make a connection with them. In our session on hearing, we looked at how
Jesus used stories to make the word of God easier to understand and take in.
In this session I want to look at another way Jesus connected with
people through the use of touch.
I’d like you all now to close your eyes and picture if you can that you
are in Israel 2000 years ago at the time of Jesus. It’s a cold day outside and
you are walking down a crowded street. There are people walking in front of
you, behind you and pushing past you. And you are being jossled as you walk
Then all of a sudden the crowd parts ahead of you and you see a person
dressed in rags, with untrimmed beard and their head covered. He is shuffling
slowly awkwardly down the street and as he does everyone moves to the other
side of the street and turns their back on him.
Then you see one man who doesn’t move out of the way. Instead he looks
straight at him. And as leper kneels down you see Jesus stretch out his hand
and touch him.
Imagine, that you are that leper. That for
years now you have lived in isolation outside of the town away from all other
people. Imagine that in all that time you have never touched anyone, or had
anyone touch you. No-one has even taken anytime to talk to you face to face.
Then you come to Jesus. This is a man who
you’ve heard is so powerful that he can heal just by saying the word. And you
kneel there before Jesus and you ask him to heal you. And rather than just
saying the word, he reaches out and touches you. The first touch you have felt
in years, and with it you also feel yourself being healed.
man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are
willing, you can make me clean."
3Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I
am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of
his leprosy. 4Then 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."
Jesus knew what this man needed. He didn’t just need to be healed. He
needed what we all need. He needed to be touched like a normal human being.
Jesus made that connection.
Julia my wife spend several months in India. Whilst she was there she
visited several people with leprosy. And as I’ve described what these people
wanted so much was to be touched. It is a very sad situation with leprosy in
India, because leprosy as we know it is only contagious to people who are
hungry and weak and not as well as they could be. And to get better, in
addition to modern medicine what these people need is to be well fed and well
looked after. But in India, because of the stigma and fear of leprosy, these
people get cast out of families and are disowned by their friends. So they have
no means of support and not means of getting the food and nursing that would
make them well.
The example of Jesus however is completely different, he identified the
needs of people and met them. And in all the examples we’re going to look in
this session, the need of the people we’re talking about is the need for touch.
6So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the
centurion sent friends to say to him: "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I
do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7That is why I did
not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my
servant will be healed. 8For I myself am a man under authority, with
soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,'
and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
9When Jesus heard this, he
was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I
tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." 10Then
the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
In this example we see the full power of God and of faith demonstrated.
The centurion had such a strong faith in the power of God that he knew that if
Jesus said that his servant would be healed, it would be so.
Our next few examples however are completely the opposite
Dead Girl and a Sick Woman
18While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before
him and said, "My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on
her, and she will live." 19Jesus got up and went
with him, and so did his disciples.
20Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for
twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I
will be healed."
22Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart,
daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman
was healed from that moment.
23When Jesus entered the ruler's house and saw the flute
players and the noisy crowd, 24he said, "Go away.
The girl is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him. 25After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and
took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26News of
this spread through all that region.
There are two incidences of touch in these verses. The woman who touched
Jesus’ cloak was absolutely desperate to be healed and she believed that Jesus
could heal her. And she believed that she only needed to touch his cloak to be
healed. And Jesus who knew her through and through let her be healed. But he
made it clear to her that it was her faith that healed her, not the specific
touching of his cloak.
We also read about the ruler in verse 18. He says “come and put your
hand on her and she will live”. Again unlike the centurion, he needed to see
the physical action of Jesus touching his daughter to believe. So Jesus goes
along with the ruler and he takes that girl by the hand and she gets up alive.
Jesus could have just said, get up but he didn’t, because the ruler only had enough
faith to believe that his daughter would be healed if Jesus touched her. But
that was enough faith, Jesus knowing what the ruler needed touched the girl.
And that would also be what the little girl needed. For her to wake from her
sleep having her hand held by Jesus and reassuring her. It was touch that these
people needed and it was touch that Jesus gave.
A few more examples of how Jesus interacted with people in this way.
1After six days Jesus took with
him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain
by themselves. 2There he was transfigured before them. His face
shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3Just
then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will
put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."
he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the
cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.
Listen to him!"
the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7But
Jesus came and touched them. "Get up," he said. "Don't be
afraid." 8When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
This was a really awesome event and we read in verse 6 that the
disciples were terrified. But Jesus knew that they were scared and he knew what
to do to comfort them. He goes over and he touches
them. He lifts them up on their feet and reassures them. He knew what they
needed and he helped them.
29As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a
large crowd followed him. 30Two blind men were sitting
by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted,
"Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"
31The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but
they shouted all the louder, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"
32Jesus stopped and called them. "What do you want
me to do for you?" he asked.
33"Lord," they answered, "we want our
34Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes.
Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
Again Jesus could have healed these blind men just by saying the word,
but that’s not what he does. Jesus touched their eyes and then they received
their sight. I think that Jesus knew that these blind men need to feel Jesus
doing something to believe that they were healed, and that’s what Jesus did, he
touched their eyes and they were healed.
some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they
begged him to place his hand on the man.
33After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put
his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spit and touched the man's tongue. 34He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to
him, "Ephphatha!" (which means, "Be opened!" ).
On first reading, Jesus putting his hands into this man’s ears and
spitting and touching the man’s tongue seems like such a funny thing, But this
was a deaf man. If Jesus told him he was healed he couldn’t hear him say it. So
Jesus touches him, just like the blind man as a prompt for his faith, so that
he knows that he is going to be healed.
The power of faith is so important and stronger faith is something we
should always be praying for and working towards by acting on what we know.
But also recognising the influence that our actions can have on the
faith of others is also so important. The faith of all of the people in these
examples was strengthened by Jesus’ use of touch.
The world we live in may in some ways be different from the world at the
time of Jesus but there are still people who have needs who need to make
connections. People who need to form relationships.
Last year 7.8 million single people logged onto internet dating
websites. That’s almost 15% of the population.
As we saw in the puppets show at the start of this session, people have
a need to have relationships, both for love and for friendship. Yet the world
we live in certainly in the UK seems to be unable to provide for the needs of
so many people.
When we think about the way that our relationship with God and Christ
changes our lives surely we must also realise that we have something amazing to
Jesus found out what people needed and gave it to them. We should all be
trying to do the same. In this western world of lonely people, there are so
many people who need relationships, family and community. And we having felt
the touch of Jesus are well placed to give it to them.
And the better we get to know people the more we’ll know how to meet
their needs and show Jesus’ love to them.
Jesus also understood that some people only had a very
small amount of faith. In fact Thomas one of Jesus’ own disciples refused to
believe that Jesus was risen from the dead.
Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the
Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.
So the other disciples
told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless
I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and
put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."
A week later his
disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors
were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with
Then he said to Thomas,
"Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into
my side. Stop doubting and believe."
Thomas said to him,
"My Lord and my God!"
Then Jesus told him,
"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have
not seen and yet have believed."
was probably still suffering from the disappointment of Jesus’ death. Some of
the disciples had believed that Jesus was going to over through the Romans and
save the Jewish nation there and then. They hadn’t understood when Jesus had
tried to explain to them that he had to die. So when he had been put to death
it would have been a real shock and disappointment for Thomas. Thomas therefore
did not want to have his hopes raised by the other disciples talk of Jesus
being risen. He couldn’t take to be disappointed again so he insists that he
won’t believe until he touches Jesus himself.
Jesus however knew this. He knew what Thomas needed and so
he appears among the disciples. And he tells Thomas to touch his hands where
the nails had been and to put his hand in his side. I find several things
encouraging about this example. Firstly I find it really comforting that Jesus
helped the unbelief of the disciples. As such we should always be praying for
God to strengthen our faith as we know that he hears our prayers and that Jesus
did help the disciples. Secondly Jesus calls those who have not physically seen
Jesus blessed. That means all of you in this room who have come here to study
God’s word because you believe that Jesus is risen from the dead. Jesus calls
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be
enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the
riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great
power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty
strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and
seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and
authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in
the present age but also in the one to come.
God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over
everything for the church,
is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.