• Jill Jarrell Newsome

Reach Out And Touch Someone

In the 1980's AT&T had a commercial, "Reach Out And Touch Someone." My, how times have changed. I was thinking how people are scared to touch anyone or anything. I was thinking about when we had Covid and people dropped food off on my porch. After they got in their car we would open the door and get it. Waving to my mom on Christmas day from inside brought lots of tears. The isolation was difficult for me. I began to think about the lessons of the leper.


As I studied this story it broke my heart thinking about his isolation. Think about this man who begins to have sores on his body, more and more. Luke’s gospel record of this account says that the leper was “full of leprosy.” Luke 5: 12, "And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus..." This wasn’t a case of a few spots, but a body that was covered. He had to leave his family, his home, his work and go live with other lepers. He had to leave everything he knew and loved and not for a short while but for the rest of his life. There was no cure so he would never be able to comfort his crying wife, hug his children or provide for them. His family could bring him food every day but not get close. They would leave it at a certain place and when they left he could pick it up.


According to Jewish law, he wore rags, his hair was disheveled and uncovered and he covered his face with a cloth. Leviticus 13: 45, "“Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face..." And the worse part to me is the rest of that verse, "...and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’" Although I know the physical damage of leprosy is horrible I think the mental and emotional damage would be the worse!


One day the leper sees a small group of people following a man who is teaching them. He hears the name, "Jesus" and has heard he is a teacher. He would love to hear Him teach. As Jesus and the men get closer he knows what the law tells him to do. He yells, "Unclean! Unclean! Stay away from me! I have leprosy!" Jesus keeps getting closer and the man shouts, "Unclean" louder! The leper was afraid if Jesus got any closer, He would get leprosy. He begins to cover himself and hobble away but Jesus is so close he can look into His eyes. He doesn't see fear, rejection or judgment. He sees love! Wonder how long it had been since he saw love in someone's eyes? And I bet that was the moment he fell down. Luke 5: 12, "While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.'” The NKJV reads, "And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Implored is more than a request. It is pleading and begging. Luke 5: 13, "Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!' And immediately the leprosy left him."


Jesus could have healed the man without touching him. He could have spoke healing. I believe Jesus knew this leper needed love as much as healing. Wonder how long it had been since he had had human touch? Jesus reached out touched the man with compassion. As I studied this I learned there was another reason Jesus showed love. He had just told four disciples that he would teach them how to be fishers of men. Maybe this was the first lesson. You have to love men to catch them. Reach out and touch someone. Look past the scars and rotting flesh and love them.


During this time of social distancing, God still shows us ways to reach out and touch someone. We, too, must show Christian love before we can expect someone to become a Christian. This means even if they are different from us, think different from us, have different political views from us, live differently than us, etc. Things may be very different today than during this time of leprosy but one thing remains the same. God! Hebrews 13: 8, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." If we are going to be effective in our evangelism, we must reach out and touch someone!


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