Standing in our church auditorium during our Healing Service, a lady came and stood before my team members and me. As I asked this lady what she would like Jesus to do for her today, she responded by sobbing. Through her tears came the words “to feel clean.” My response was to ask her if I could hug her. I then held her in my arms for ages. Gradually, the deep sobbing eased, and the muffled tears stopped. I released her, and she looked at me with a face that was glowing. “Thank you for loving me kindly,” she said. “I have never been touched by anyone in a gentle, kind manner. Thank you.”
A gentle, appropriate touch, with permission, can result in healing – more than we can ever know or understand.
Jesus loved touching people – physically, spiritually, and emotionally. He was the master at both compassion and appropriate touch. We often read in the Gospels where Jesus reached out and appropriately touched people, and in the touch, people were healed.
In Mark 1:40-42, we read, ‘A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.’
From these verses, we read Jesus was indignant. The Aramaic word for indignant can mean both anger and compassion. Perhaps Jesus felt both angry and compassionate. We see here that Jesus felt deeply for this man. To minister like Jesus, we need to feel compassion for the people we meet.
It could be construed that Jesus was angry at being misunderstood, as His purpose was to bring healing and restoration.
From what we read and know of Jesus’ character, I believe Jesus was angry at the condition – leprosy – that made this man a social outcast. No one would have touched this man for a long time.
Imagine never knowing the touch of another human being because you were considered ‘unclean’. What impact would this have on your self-esteem and self-worth?
I believe Jesus was so angry at this dignity-stripping disease that His first action was to restore to the man the very thing the disease sought to steal from him – his worth. Jesus touched the man and restored the man’s dignity. Jesus broke societal barriers and rejection off this man. Jesus did far more than just saying “Be clean.”
It was a brave and courageous act for Jesus, as touching someone with leprosy brought shame and uncleanliness to you. Traditionally, Jesus then had to be excluded from being around people for a certain period. Jesus did not let that inhibit Him. Jesus came to destroy all those legalistic rules and lies that bound people. The superstitions around the diseases were lies, something the enemy specializes in, along with humiliation and exclusion. Jesus came to conquer this and bring freedom to all these areas.
I will never forget my first touch with leprosy. After carefully examining the sores on the child’s legs, the other nurse clinician and I glanced at each other. Our eyes communicated the unspoken disease – leprosy. That one word could still cause a feeling of dread in our minds because of the physical and social savageness and the isolation of the condition.
I internally struggled with my desire to withdraw all physical contact to lessen the likelihood of my contracting the disease. However, I deliberately kept my hands in contact with the child’s skin. I felt that showing compassion and love to the child far outweighed the emotional rejection this child may experience if I showed any fear of rejection and catching leprosy since touch transmits it.
The other nurse began explaining the condition to the child and her mother. Thankfully, there is now a treatment that means people with leprosy no longer need to be isolated after they have begun treatment. This child did not need emotional isolation along with this physical condition.
Notice how Mark writes ‘a man with leprosy’, not ‘the leper’. Your physical condition or sickness should never define who you are. To Jesus, here was a man, not a leper. Please be careful never to call or label people by their condition. I’ll expand more on ‘labels’ in a future blog.
Physical healing often follows the emotional healing. Jesus’ comment was, “Be clean.” Not “Be healed.” The man became healed by being declared clean (something that only a priest could announce). Physically, relationally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Until then, the priest was the ‘go-between’, taking man’s requests to God. Jesus came to bridge that gap so we did not need a ‘go-between’ but could go directly to God with our prayers. Jesus takes the priest’s place in this passage, foreshadowing what would occur after His resurrection.
Touch was important for Jesus. Jesus often healed people purely by touching them. A transaction occurs in the touching. Just as Jesus’ touch was powerful, so too can our touch.
A middle-aged man brought his teenage son to the Healing Rooms for prayer. After praying for the son, I asked this man if he wanted prayer for anything for himself. After a brief pause, he admitted he was the person who wanted prayer and that he had brought his son because he was too embarrassed to come for himself.
We prayed for this man and his various needs. His wife had left him, and he was lonely, scared, and depressed. He had some issues regarding his employment. We prayed for numerous physical conditions. After we prayed for the restoration of his eyesight, he could see more clearly and no longer needed his glasses.
But I still felt that this man needed something more.
My husband was praying for someone else, and I excused myself and went across to my husband. I tapped him on the shoulder and whispered that I needed him.
My husband appropriately finished with the person he was praying for and came across to me. I asked my husband to give this man a Father’s blessing.
Gary blessed this man, but the watershed moment was when my husband wrapped his arms around this man and hugged him like a father. The tears flowed from the man. This was a significant moment for him. The hug seemed to last for an eternity. This man experienced the Father in a new way.
As my husband stepped back, this man, with tears running down his face, expressed, “I am now ready to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour.”
Never underestimate the significance and the power of a touch.
Questions to reflect on:
- How compassionate am I towards others?
- Am I carrying any shame or humiliation from the past that I need to bring before Jesus?
- Are there any ‘labels’ that have been placed on me that need removing? How does Jesus see me?
- When people ask for healing, is that always what they really want or need? How do I know?
- What are my beliefs about touching someone when praying for healing for them?
- How do I respond when asked to pray for someone with a ‘socially unacceptable’ issue?
Prophetic Activations / Exercises to incorporate into your week:
Every blog post, I list five prophetic activations/exercises under children/family, group, beginner, intermediate and advanced. The purpose of these exercises is to practice to help us hear God’s voice in a clearer manner. They sharpen our senses to hear and see and sense God and His way of communicating with us. This enables us to grow in our relationship with God and also to impart to others what God tells us for them. Feel free to use as many of these activations each week as you can. The more you practice, the sharper you become at hearing God’s voice. Enjoy! Remember that whenever you give another person a prophetic word or picture etc, please make sure that it is encouraging, edifying (strengthening) and comforting (1 Corinthians 14:3) and that it comes from a place of love.
1. Children / Families Activation: Ask God to show you as a family/group someone who needs comforting and cheering up. Ask God to show you how you can do this.
2. Group Activation: Ask God to show you a local societal issue with a root of hopelessness. Prophesy as a group over that issue. Ask God if there is something practical you can also do to help.
3. Beginner Activation: Ask God to show you someone who needs a touch from God today. Step out in courage and approach the person, asking their permission to pray and prophesy over them.
4. Intermediate Activation: Ask God to highlight a local funeral director and how you can encourage and prophesy over them.
5. Advanced Activation: Ask God to highlight a socially unacceptable disease and to show you how to prophesy into the answer.