40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.
In the Old Testament law, to touch someone sick with leprosy was to make yourself ceremonially unclean. The picture, of course, is that, since God is so totally holy, we, if we want to be near him, must not be contaminated with anything. Touching unclean animals, dead things, or even an unclean person could render you unable to participate in community life.
Without unpacking all of the typology in the law system, without talking about how the laws of ceremonial cleanness helped the Israelite community, I want to simply point to one glorious truth in the passage above. Jesus touched a leper. Jesus made him clean.
The story is simple. The leper asks for healing. Jesus touches him and heals him. In that, we see the great power of Jesus as God to push back the darkness of the fall and bring healing to a body in a miraculous way. WE see the kindness of Jesus, touching one that had been untouchable.
But the thing that grabs my attention is this. In any other instance, the uncleanness of the person would be transmitted to the one who touched the unclean person. But not with Jesus. When Jesus touched the leper, Jesus’ cleanness was transferred to the leper.
I once heard a person say that, if you garden with white gloves, you are not likely to end up with glovey mud. No, you get muddy gloves. That is how the normal world works. Something would have to be spectacularly strange for the gloves to remain clean and the mud to be changed. But, dear friends, this is what happens when Jesus touches us.
Jesus is incorruptible. He is the holy God in flesh. Nothing, not a single thing, could touch Jesus and make him unclean. Instead, if something touches Jesus, the thing that touches Jesus is changed. It must either be made clean or consumed. But the thing touching Jesus cannot change him, as he is the unchanging and unchangeable God.
Praise Jesus for being so much greater than we are. He can reach right into our dirty lives and make us clean. He has no fear of our needs, as he is not able to be made unclean. But, rightly fear Jesus, because his holiness is also deadly to sin.
What will the touch of Jesus do to you? It depends. Are you under his grace? All people will stand in his presence. Those who are not under his grace will be consumed like a piece of tissue paper on the face of the fiery sun. Those who have believed in him and come to him for mercy will be transformed, made holy and clean by the sweet and merciful Savior.