We all love to tread paths that are well-trod. However, Jesus was different. He trod paths people dread to tread.
In most cases Jesus healed people by his word, without touching their body or the affected area. However, there were some exceptions. in the case of the deaf and the dumb man he touched his ears and his lips (Mark 7:33). In another case be touched the eyes of a blind man to heal him (John 9:7). These except in most of the cases the people touched him and were healed or he commanded the sickness or demons to go or pronounced healing.
However, he deviated from this in some cases. In the case of lepers he touched them to heal them (Mark 1:41). In the case of the dead he touched the bier or the dead body and raised them. In the case of the son of the widow who was dead and was being taken to the graveyard. He stopped them, touched the bier and the young man sprang up to life (Luke 7:14). In the case of the daughter of Jairus he held the hand of the dead body to raise her back to life (Mark 5:40 and Luke 8:54).
According to the Law of Moses, those who have leprosy should live outside the camp so that they don’t pollute others. Touching a leper made a person unclean. Anyone who touches the dead body should also become unclean and should live outside the camp. People feared the dead and the lepers and avoided both. However, Jesus did not.
In the story of Jesus healing a leper (Mark 1:40), the Gospel writer says that the leper came to Jesus. However, it is impossible for the leper to come to Jesus unless Jesus had ventured in to the territory where the leper lived with others from the rest of the people who considered themselves clean. In the healing of the ten lepers in Luke (Luke 17), Jesus was passing through the colony of lepers. This area designated for lepers between the two provinces (Galilee and Samaria) is a place that everyone who wished to be clean avoided. However, Jesus ventured through this land. Those who touched or carried the dead bodies were unclean. However, Jesus won’t hesitate to touch them. Jesus loved to do things that others dreaded to do. He trod paths that others dread to tread.
In recording in detail the healing of the leper and the raising the dead bodies by deliberately touching them, the Gospel writers are passing on an important message to those who want to emulate Jesus. Don’t shy away from the dreaded paths. Don’t follow the crowds along the well-trodden paths. The church has to deviate at times and sometimes stagger through paths the world hate to walk.
The disciples of Jesus had always followed his example of by treading the unfamiliar, untrodden, dreaded paths. Philip the evangelist had to move from the crowded streets of Jerusalem to the path in the wilderness where he met the Finance Minister of Ethiopia. He had to travel the wilderness road to meet the Ethiopian to introduce Jesus to him. Peter was hesitant to take the gospel to Cornelius who was a pagan. He had never visited a pagan in his house. However, God forced him to make that trip to Caesarea to take the gospel to a Roman centurion. Paul had to stray on to the Mars Hill in Athens so that he could tell the Athenians about the God whom they didn’t know. The history of the Christian Church all these two thousand years has been a history of treading the dreaded paths. It is a story of taking the gospel to lost, neglected, venturing in to unknown lands and it goes on. A church that remains in its comfort zones dies but the one that follows her master to the unknown and the unfamiliar thrives.