Matthew 8:1
Jesus reached out and touched him (v.3).

Kiley had ventured outside her home country only
once in her 18 years. So when she had the chance
to go to Kenya to help with a medical mission, she
was thrilled—and a little uneasy. After all, she didn’t have
any real medical experience.

As she provided basic medical care in a remote
village, she met a woman with elephantiasis. It’s a
horrible but treatable disease caused by parasitic worms.
Elephantiasis causes grotesque swelling in the lower half
of the body. Prevention includes simply wearing shoes.
But in poverty-stricken Africa, many villagers have little or
no access to such basic needs.

Kiley was repulsed by the woman’s distorted leg, but
she proceeded to clean and bandage it. The woman
began crying. Startled, Kiley asked if she was hurting
her. “No,” she replied. “It’s the first time in 9 years that
anyone has touched my leg.”

Leprosy is another disease that renders its victims
repulsive to others. Ancient Jewish culture had strict
guidelines to prevent it from spreading. “They must live
in isolation . . . outside the camp,” read the Levitical law
(Leviticus 13:45-46). Sufferers had to loudly announce
“unclean” from a far distance to prevent others from
approaching them.

That’s why it’s so remarkable that a leper had the nerve
to approach Jesus and say, “Lord, . . . if You are willing,
You can heal me and make me clean” (Matthew 8:2). Jesus did the unthinkable.
He “reached out and touched him,” says the New Testament account. “I am
willing,” He said. “Be healed” (v.3).

In touching a lonely woman’s diseased leg, Kiley was imitating the fearless,
taboo-breaking love of Jesus. It was one tiny touch, but it made a difference.
What difference will you make today? —Tim Gustafson

To understand more
about the detailed Jewish
laws covering leprosy
and other skin diseases,
see Leviticus 13:1.

Is there someone you are
afraid to touch? Why
is this so? What might
need to change for you to
become more like Jesus?