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Touching Untouchables — Mt. 8.3

Years ago, in the Hindu caste system, a group called “the untouchables,” consisting of people belonging to the lowest-caste Hindu group (a servant class) and those outside the system, were deemed disadvantaged, social outcasts, and doomed to a life of menial and undesirable work. Contact with an untouchable resulted in ritual defilement.

In Bible times, lepers were similarly ostracized. Yet, when a leper approached the Lord for cleansing, “Jesus put out his hand and touched him,” cleansing his leprosy “immediately” (Mt. 8.3; cf. v.15).

Notably, the Lord did not need to touch the leper, in order to heal him. He could “only speak a word,” and healing would occur (Mt. 8.8-13). Still, he “touched” him.

More than that, in fact, the word suggests: to fasten to; to cling to. Jesus did not merely tap the edge of his finger on the man — he grabbed him, full on.

The savior’s contact must have been truly comforting to the leper. He may have been an outcast to his neighbors, but he was not untouchable to his sympathetic lord (cf. Heb. 4.15).

The point? It is good to give people what they need; it’s even better to remind them that they are cared for (Phil. 2.1-4, 20; 1 Thess. 5.11-14).


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