Jesus performed many miracles during his three-year ministry, from turning water into wine at the beginning to the second miraculous catch of fish towards the end. He also healed people, lots of people, with approximately two-thirds of his recorded miracles involving healing, and that doesn’t include casting out evil spirits or raising from the dead.
So, healing people was important to Jesus, important enough for him to give two-thirds of his supernatural, miraculous, transforming energy to it. But time and time again he used the opportunity to heal someone as a practical way of teaching us something else. Something that is as equally relevant for us today as it was 2,000 years ago.
Reference/read: Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1: 40-45, Luke 5:12-14
Key word/phrase: “I am willing”
Surprise: Jesus reached out his hand and touched him.
Key teaching verse: v40 (Mark’s Gospel)
‘Jesus was indignant (or filled with compassion). He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”’
Two things here, both linked. Firstly, while some translations use the word ‘indignant’ to describe Jesus’ attitude towards what the man with leprosy said to him, others use the words ‘filled with compassion’. A very different meaning! It seems to fit better with what happens next, as Jesus reaches out his hand and touches the man with leprosy. Totally counter-cultural for the time, but very much the style of compassionate, servant-hearted, loving care for others that Jesus modelled throughout his ministry. A lesson for us all!
This could also have been the first time this man had received the touch of another human being for many years, and so I believe that as Jesus touched the man with leprosy he didn’t just heal him physically but also started the process of healing the man mentally and emotionally as well.
What would it have meant to this man, who would have had no physical contact for years, to be touched by Jesus?
Why can we find disability frightening and avoid contact with disabled people?
What does it mean for us to also be able to say “I am willing!”
Mark Arnold is the Additional Needs Ministry Director for Urban Saints’ pioneering additional needs ministry, including training, consultancy, conference speaking and resourcing: urbansaints.org/additionalneeds
Find out more:
Read Mark’s blog post, ‘Activities to Explore Our Senses and what Jesus Teaches Us About Them’ to further unpack this story.
You can also watch the video of a talk given by Mark at Frinton Free Church that shares more about this teaching.
As part of Urban Saints’ Additional Needs Ministry, Mark runs training seminars for all parents, teachers, church leaders, youth and children's leaders, and anyone who cares about children and young people with special / additional needs or disabilities. One of the seminars Mark has developed focusses on exploring our senses. Find out more at urbansaints.org/allinclusive