GOOD FRIDAY: TOUCH
Touch is such a profound sense in Holy Week.. and it started with the touch of the crowds on Palm Sunday..the Hallelujahs, the palms wafting and touching each other in the breeze.
Then, the touch of Jesus’ angry hands on the moneychangers tables in the Temple.
The touch of the bread and wine at the Passover Meal on Maundy Thursday.
Of Jesus as he broke and poured and blessed and gave bread and wine to the disciples as they received from him.
The touch of Judas’ lips on Jesus’ face as he betrayed him
The touch of the hand of Jesus re-setting and healing the ear of the solider Peter had ripped off with his sword.
The touch of the soldiers roughly manhandling Jesus, pushing him from place to place, scourging him, dressing him in purple, pressing the crown of thorns down on his head..
Time and time again in the Bible we find people begging Jesus to touch their little children and babies.
The blind and the sick are fumbling and pushing forward just hoping to touch Jesus.
However, in our culture today, the context of a loving touch has been distorted by Satan who has taken and twisted something that was intended to be good and used it for evil.
In the Times this week, I read one out of every four girls and one out of every six boys is sexually abused.
And so, many of us have been abused under the pretext of love, we’ve been touched in ways that were selfish and hurtful,
We need to know that Jesus touch is a touch that’s welcome, it’s desired, and it’s needed, because it’s a godly, caring, sensitive, and appropriate touch.
There’s an amazing example in Matthew chapter 8, where a man with leprosy came and knelt before Jesus saying,
“Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean”Matthew 8:2
Now, culturally this was unthinkable, this leper was extremely contagious, ( as is the Corona virus) and from what I read the lifespan of a person with leprosy was only 10 years.
And so, he was desperate, his body was decomposing, he literally looked and smelled like the walking dead, but he knew what God could do. He said, “You can make me clean.”
“Jesus reached out and did what? He touched the man. Jesus touches him and says, “I am willing, be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy”Matthew 8:3
Now, I know this is Jesus, but this is a really good time not to be touching people, right? I mean, this man was unclean, he was incredibly contagious, and over and over and over again Jesus healed people without a touch.
Put this in todays Covid19 context…we are all socially distancing as so many truly had to in 1c Palestine
Now why would Jesus touch him? Why did Jesus reach out and touch this man?
I believe Jesus was doing something deeper, something greater than just healing a man with leprosy.
Jesus knew that what this man needed most was a loving, caring touch; that he needed to be healed from a life of rejection and loneliness.
The thing that was causing him the greatest pain, wasn’t all the external symptoms, but the hurt deep on the inside of being an outcast, of losing his family, friends, and identity.
We are touching a little of that today but we do have the wonders of technology to help.
It was that loving touch of Jesus that healed him and it’s that touch that changes us because we were wired by God for intimacy.
The touches and hugs and embraces of our own family and church family are being banked for a great day of celebration!
And so back to the Crucifixion.
Given permission by the Romans, to take him down, they lowered Jesus into the arms of his mother…
Then, surrounded by the other women, they carried him to the cave, the final resting place of another believer Joseph of Arimathea…who had given it for Jesus.
Those women touched him gently, cleaning him as their tears fell, touching him with their love.
They left him alone, fully expecting to be able to anoint him after the Sabbath.
Jesus, our Christ, our Lord and Saviour, you loved us so much to die for us.
You have opened up the gates of heaven to us and today, in the silence now, we touch you with our thanks and offer afresh to you, our very self.
In body, mind and spirit, Amen