When You Touch the Untouchable

Lepers were to be treated as though they were dead. You took them to the edge of town and you left them there. And yet Jesus touches the untouchable. Who needs our touch?

Jesus the Rule Breaker

In the story of Jesus healing a leper in Luke 5:12-16, we hear the man begging Jesus, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Verse 13 tells us of Jesus’ response. “And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately, the leprosy left him.”
Anyone reading the story in that culture would have been shocked, not by the healing, but by Jesus doing something that was absolutely forbidden. He touched the leper.

Leviticus 13 tells how the priests were to diagnose leprosy and then treat the leper. They were to examine the sores but never touch. Once diagnosed, the leper was cast out of the community, beyond the city walls. You treated him the way you would treat a corpse.

He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.

Leviticus 13:46

But Jesus Broke the Rules

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Let Down Your Nets

Jesus’ miraculous catch of fish didn’t just challenge what Simon knew about fishing, it changed everything he believed possible. Let down your nets.

Fishing Ron Swanson
Ron Swanson, philosopher

The great philosopher Ron Swanson once said, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Don’t teach a man to fish and feed yourself. He’s a grown man; fishing’s not that hard.”

While I agree that fishing is not difficult, I would counter that it’s not a matter of “don’t teach a man to fish,” but rather, “you can’t teach a man to fish.” I’ve been around a lot of fishermen and one trait they all seem to have is that they are all thoroughly convinced that their method of fishing is the best. They don’t need you telling them how to fish.

And so, the most amazing thing for me in the story of the miraculous catch of fish from Luke 5 is that when Jesus told Peter let the nets down for a catch, he actually did it.

“Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”

Luke 5:5
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Walking Jesus’ Path

If we’re walking Jesus’ path we’ll encounter Jesus’ people.

There Are No Shortcuts

In Luke 4:14-30, we read of Jesus’ return to his home in Nazareth and the message he delivered to those in his home synagogue.

It does not go well.

Walking Jesus' path

Trust me; I know what it’s like to preach a bad sermon. I even know what it’s like to preach a bad sermon at my home church! But I’ve never preached a sermon so bad that the whole congregation took me to the edge of town to throw me off a cliff!

Of course, it does help that we don’t have any cliffs nearby.

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Straight Paths and New Sidewalks

John the Baptist came to prepare the way of the Lord and make his paths straight. Baptism continues to level the path for all who make their way to Jesus.

Make His Paths Straight

Baptism Make His Paths Straight Sidewalk

When I went to Lincoln Christian College thirty years ago, the landscape was connected with sidewalks that met like spokes on a wagon wheel in the middle of the campus. That was fine if you were heading to one of the buildings directly connected to by the sidewalks, but there was one huge problem.

None of the sidewalks led to the cafeteria!

For the first few weeks of school, we did a great job of staying on the sidewalks and keeping the grass green and pristine. But, as the semester wore on, more and more we would avoid the sidewalk and beat a straight path to the cafeteria!

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Prepare the Way of the Lord

The Gospel of Luke is full of stories of people encountering Jesus, but in chapter three Jesus encounters John the Baptist. Through the gift of baptism, we all encounter Jesus.

Thirty-six years ago I made a decision to follow Jesus. The first place I followed him was into the waters of baptism. Had I been in charge, I might have chosen to do that in June rather than January, or at a church that had a heated baptistry, or–better yet–at a church in the Bahamas. Oh well. Live and learn.

For me, that moment of baptism has always carried the significance of the moment when I became a Christian. While others might point to a prayer they prayed or a feeling they felt, my Christian life has been indelibly marked with January 6, 1984, at about 6:30 pm. And seriously, you people could NOT have sprung for a baptistry heater???

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