“Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man” (Luke 5:13, NIV 1984).
On my second day in Ogbomosho, Dr. Bill Gaventa took me to a nearby leper village. I honestly hesitated when the man with missing fingers held out his hand. But then flashed to my memory Jesus’ encounter with a man “covered with leprosy.” I lifted my hand and grasped what remained of his, with my fear and Jesus’ love.
When I read of Jesus’ encounter with the man suffering from leprosy, and remember my own experience, three words come roaring to my mind’s ear: Risk, Reputation and Value.
Jesus was no fool. Lepers were quarantined from healthy folk because the risk of contamination was real. Though the first century Jews had no germ theory to guide them, God’s message was clear: touching a leper could lead to leprosy. Touching a leper meant Risk.
Not only was there a fear of contamination, there was a clear loss of Reputation for any who would share time and space with these outcasts. Jesus faced the shame of established society and the loss of reputation by even speaking to this man.
And then there came these words, “Don’t tell anyone.” Certainly this is a theological presentation of the Messianic secret; but more important to me, these words say, Value. They say, “Even if no one hears of this miracle and I gain no benefit from your healing, you are worthy of my touch. You matter to me.”
Risk, Reputation, Value: Do these words describe my encounter with anyone I have recently touched for Jesus?
Help me to value your lost children enough to risk time, money and reputation.