Worth Reading–May 23, 2012
Jesus Wants to Trade
By Ed Welch
When Jesus touched or was purposefully touched, there was a lot happening. He was showing his solidarity with outcasts. He was identifying with them. Of that, there is no doubt. When you see people purposefully touching, you know they are at least good friends. But if that’s all Jesus did, it would have been a nice but empty gesture. The outcasts would have felt temporary comfort but no real change in status. So there was much more happening. The accumulating references to “power” give it away.
With every intentional touch there was a transaction being made. “Power” goes out from Jesus to the person who was touched. Splice together various Scriptures and you will see that power is a loaded term that includes:
Holiness conferred (consecration)
Forgiveness of sins
Cleansing and purification
Identification with Jesus’ status
Meanwhile, the unclean person gave something to Jesus, the scapegoat. He or she gave:
Victimization and its contamination
This is the gospel: God touches us.
All the talk about cleanness and uncleanness points to this divine touch. This is what the universe itself was waiting for. It is an unbalanced transaction that displaces our shame and replaces it with holiness. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). With our touch, Jesus becomes our scapegoat. In his touch, Jesus takes our sin and absorbs our shame (Ps. 69:9; Rom. 15:3), and we receive his righteousness. If you prefer symmetry in your relationships, in which you give a gift of similar value to the one you receive, you have not yet touched Jesus.
This is faith: we reach out and touch the holy One.
Faith means we believe that the kingdom of heaven has come to us in Christ. It means we believe there is hope in Jesus and only in him. It means we believe that rescue, healing, covering, acceptance, and cleansing are possible, and possible only in Jesus. Faith—or touching Jesus—means saying, “Jesus, I need you.”
It sounds easy but, like all things spiritual, faith is evidence of supernatural power at work in us. Left to ourselves, we instinctively turn inward rather than put our trust and confidence in Jesus. You know this instinct. We call it self-protection, though it is more accurately called unbelief.
Shame has a natural affinity with self-protection and unbelief. It hides from others, feels undeserving of anything good, and believes it will contaminate whatever comes close. But look at what happened when Jesus came. Unclean people suddenly were filled with hope. Instead of hiding from the world, they became indifferent to the derision of the relatively clean townspeople and boldly went out to see Jesus. When they saw him, they felt compelled to touch him because they understood that their salvation was near. They came alive!
Watch them as they sit in the filth of their daily lives. Watch them as they hear rumors of someone who cares and has power. Watch them stand up when they receive news that Jesus is approaching. Watch their steps quicken when they hear the crowd. Watch them become an unstoppable force when they see him. Don’t get in the way of someone who is both desperate and hopeful when the King is near.
These are the men and women of faith.
Join them. Don’t be one who happens to bump into Jesus in a crowded marketplace. Instead, join those who purposefully touched him.
Please, join them.