STRETCH OUT YOUR HAND, TOUCH LIVES

By Ong Eng Boon

During Jesus’ first-year ministry in the region of Galilee, there was a detailed record of how He healed a leper that came to Him.

“ Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean” Mark 1:40.

Then we read of Jesus’ response to this leper in just a very short sentence, which most of us probably would missed what was said.

“Then Jesus moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed” Mark 1: 41.

Today if you could stretch your hand and touch someone’s life, who would you go to? Most probably you would go to your loved ones, relatives, or friends and not someone who is downtrodden or someone who is dirty and has a dreaded disease. But here we see Jesus stretched out His hand and
touched the leper.

In biblical times, leprosy was viewed as a curse from God, often connected with sin. Leprosy at that time was a chronic and incurable disease. The lep-
er is considered unclean and must be self quarantined (Leviticus 13:45-46).

The most famous leper we read of in the Old Testament is none other than Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria. It was interesting to note that only God could cure leprosy. It was a fact stated in anger by Jehoram the king of Israel when Naaman appeared and demanded that he be healed of his leprosy. This was recorded in 2 Kings 5:7

“And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy?”

Going back to the account where Jesus healed the leper, why did Jesus touch him? Was it because Jesus knew that he had a medical need? I want to believe the reason Jesus touched him is just like when someone is hurt, we stretch out our hand to pat his or her shoulder, or when we stretch our hands out to give someone a hug because he or she is in deep distress. Let’s look again at this scripture: “Then Jesus moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him” Mark 1:41.

With the recent MCO (Movement Control Order) due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I have seen many who posted on social media like Facebook or
WhatsApps something like this: “If anyone is not working and runs out of food, please don’t go to sleep with an empty stomach. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send me a private message. I will be more than hap-
py to help with food! No question asked and no repayment needed!”

It was a very heartening message to see humanity at its best during this unprecedented time. We can see many who are willing to stretch out their hands and touch someone who is in need especially those who are breadwinners but only earn enough just to support their family and those who earn a daily wage and live daily from hand to mouth. There is a
saying that goes, “When the hand is stopped, the mouth also stops.” Many are going to lose their jobs and the numbers are estimated to be in the thousands or millions due to this pandemic which has locked all of us down at home for two months and counting.

As Christians, we ought to do good works and help those in need whether in-kind or monetary contribution.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:10.

Christians are God’s “workmanship,” having been “created,” that is having experienced the “new creation” (2 Cor.5:17) in Christ (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27) to continue to do good works.

“Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” Titus 2:13-14.

“Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men” Titus 3:1-2.

“This is a faithful saying and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men” Titus 3:8.

Christians are to be good citizens! Not only do we need to continue to do good works, but we need to be ready for every good work, be zealous for good works, and be careful to maintain good works!

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” Galatians 6:9-10.

As Christians, Paul encouraged us to maintain our diligence. There are many hardships in life such as sickness, aging, loss of loved ones, economic crisis, etc. Even though these will set us back, but they are the only temporary. We must not, therefore grow weary and give in. We must endure and look beyond the calendar when the eternal reward is reaped. In the meantime, let us do and work whatever we are able to, doing what is good towards all, especially towards our own brethren who are in need of our help.

God, who is Almighty, is able to make “all grace” abundantly avail-
able to His people, so that we can be self-sufficient and even have excess in order for us to be able to abound in every good work necessary to the cause for Christ.

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, al-
ways having all sufficiency in all things may have an abundance for every good work” 2 Cor. 9:8.

“Praise the Lord!

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who delights greatly in His commandments…

He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted with honor” Psalms 112:1, 9.

So, brethren, stretch out your hands, and touch someone’s life!

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