HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.–Mark 1:41
We Reveal What We Are by What We Habitually Do
It has been said that if we want to judge a person we should never do it by a single action; but if we must do it by a single action, let that action be an ordinary one. A man is more likely to reveal himself in the kind of thing he habitually does than in the deed of some exciting moment. Now touching is a very ordinary action. We touch a thousand things each passing day. We do not prepare ourselves for touching things, as we do for the greater hours of our life. Yet in the touch of Jesus, instinctive and spontaneous, what a deal of His glory we discover! There is an evangel of the touch of Christ as surely as an evangel of the blood. I want you to think, then, of the Master’s touch, that in this common, ordinary action we may have some revelation of the Lord.
Christ’s Touch Revealed His Brotherhood
First, then, His touch revealed His brotherhood–we find that in the story of the leper. “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean”–and then we read that Jesus touched him. All that the leper expected was a cure. He thought some word of power would be pronounced. He would have been well content to light on a physician; he never dreamed he was going to find a friend. And when Jesus touched him-him the outcast, him whom everybody loathed and shunned–it was something he never could forget. He would go home and tell his wife, “He touched me.” He would gather the villagers and say, “He touched me.” He had found more in Christ than a physician; he had found a brother and a friend. That touch revealed to him, as nothing else could do, in all the ineffable yearning of his loneliness, that he was face to face with One who understood. That was the revelation of the touch. It revealed in an instant the Saviour’s loving heart. It revealed His scorn of prudential morality and the self-forgetful courage of His comradeship. It was the kind of thing we are doing every day, for every day we touch a hundred objects, yet here it was the sacrament of brotherhood.
Christ’s Touch Revealed His Divine Authority
Again His touch revealed His large authority: it was a quietly commanding touch. That emerges, with quite singular vividness, in St. Luke’s story of the widow of Nain. When He met that procession, outside the city gates, the first thing He did was to address the mother. Christ has always a cheering word to say, even in hours when other lips are dumb. And then Luke tells us that He touched the bier, and immediately the whole procession halted. He did not argue or discuss the matter. He did not beg the favour of a halt. Apparently, He did not speak one syllable to the men who were carrying the bier. It was His touch that was authoritative. It was His touch that had commanding power–and His touch has commanding power to this day. How many a drunkard has that touch stopped when heading straight for a dishonoured grave! How many a woman has that touch stopped when she was squandering the possibilities of womanhood! The touch of the Lord reveals His brotherhood, but sometimes it does more even than that. It reveals the range of His divine authority.
Christ’s Touch Revealed God’s Restfulness
Then once again His touch revealed His restfulness. “Come unto me and I will give you rest.” Is not the restful touch exhibited very beautifully when there was sickness in the house of Peter? Simon’s mother-in-law was down with fever–of what particular kind we do not know. Her pulse was racing, and her head was aching, and she was restlessly tossing on her couch. And then, we read, the Saviour came and touched her, and immediately the fever left her. The “storm was changed into a calm” in the house of Peter as on the Sea of Galilee. Instead of uneasy tossing, there was peace. Instead of feverish unrest, repose. The infinite restfulness of Jesus flowed out through the very act of touching, and the touch itself conveyed what it revealed. There are people whose touch is wonderfully restful. That is one sure mark of a good nurse. There are people who can calm us by a touch, just as others with a touch can irritate. But the touch of Jesus is unequalled, in the “fitful fever” of this life, for conveying the restfulness of God.
Christ’s Touch Revealed His Uplifting Power
Lastly, His touch revealed His uplifting power: we see that in the case of Jairus’ daughter. When He went to the little maid was sleeping–they called it death, but Jesus called it sleep. For Him, death meant something far more awful than the closing of those childish eyes. Then He touched her–took her by the hand–and the Gospel tells us that the maid arose: it is the elevating power of His touch. On Goldsmith’s monument, these words are written–nihil tetigit quod non-ornavit. They mean that within the realm of literature he touched nothing that he did not adorn. Outside literature that is not true of Oliver. He had a touch which often tarnished things. It is only true universally of Jesus. He touched water, and the water became wine, and the wine became the symbol of His blood. He touched the lilies, and their scarlet robes grew more beautiful than those of Solomon. He touched language, and common words like talent were lifted up from the bank into the brain. He touched Simon, and Simon became Peter. What sin touches it defiles. What the devil touches he degrades. Everything that Jesus touches is lifted up to higher, nobler levels. Of all which we have a sign and symbol when in Jairus’ house that day He took the maid by the hand, and she arose.