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He Touched Me

Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  19:43
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This morning’s Scripture lesson is taken from Mark 1:40-45:
Mark 1:40–45 ESV
And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.
Have you ever felt unclean? I don’t mean “unclean” in the sense of covered in dirt and grime. I mean “unclean” in the sense of feeling deep shame and guilt because of sin.
The first type of uncleanliness is easily taken care of. I remember my father hosing me down in the backyard and drying me off before I was allowed into the house where my mother was waiting to whisk me off the bathroom where there was a warm bath filled with Silly Bubbles!
The second type of uncleanliness is not so easily dealt with. Try as we might, we just cannot wash away guilt and shame. To make matters even worse, we are not just made unclean by our own sins, but by the sins of others. It is not uncommon for the victims of sexual assault for example to compulsively “wash” themselves, all in a vain attempt to cleanse themselves of guilt and shame. If this is not heartbreaking enough, victim often become victimizers. The sins of the father are indeed visited on children to the third and forth generation!
It was the dynamic of sin that laid behind the Old Covenant cleanliness laws. Most people when they begin to read the Old Testament are baffled by the various restrictions on eating certain foods and touching anything or anyone that was dead, had a bodily discharge or disease, especially skin diseases such as leprosy. The man in our Scripture reading was such a person. He, according to the Old Covenant, was ceremonially unclean. He could not worship God in the temple, and he must not be touched by anyone, least they too became ceremonially unclean. On the surface these cleanliness laws seemed cruel, they isolated suffering people not only from society, but from the worship of God. Below the surface, however, we discover they are not intended to be cruel, but revealing: They reveal to us the unseen nature of sin.
First, sin prevents us from having a proper relationship with God. God is holy. He is “clean,” and those who worship Him must be “clean.”
Second, sin is contagious. To touch an unclean thing is to make one unclean. Our sin does not just affect us, but everyone our lives touch.
Finally, and most tragically, all of us are unclean sinners.
Isaiah 64:6 ESV
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
These are the three most powerful realities shaping our lives and this world. All the human tragedy, suffering and cruelty we see around us not understandable until we understand the unseen reality of sin.
God intends for us to see ourselves in this man. Any good rabbi, who study the Law of Moses should have known this. The fact that so many failed to see this and used the Law of Moses as an excuse to abuse the “unclean” is even a more powerful illustration of the power of sin to make us “unclean.”
There is something else in our text that a rabbi could have been excused for not seeing. This reality is more powerful than the first and it is this:

Jesus Cannot be Touched by Sin

This is the real shocker on this text: Jesus touched a leper and was undefiled!
Moreover, His holiness was so powerful that this man was made clean—Jesus’ holiness is contagious!
The opening half of Mark’s gospel is designed to established Jesus’ authority. For example:
Mark 1:21–22 ESV
And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
Right after this, Jesus casts out an unclean spirit and the people responded by saying:
Mark 1:27 ESV
And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
In chapter two, we have the story of Jesus healing a paralytic, where Jesus says:
Mark 2:10–11 ESV
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”
Our text is a demonstration of Divine Authority. God is the only being in this universe that cannot be touched by sin. He is according to the angels in heaven, “Holy, holy, holy!”
Jesus is demonstrating that He is God. He is holy, holy, holy!
Earlier I said that these cleanliness laws teach us that sin separates us from God—those who are unclean cannot join the congregation in the worship of God; but our text has a second surprise for us:

Jesus Touches Sinners and They are Healed

Our uncleanliness separates us from God, but it does not separate God from us. God the Son, the second member of the Godhead, came down to this earth, took on human flesh so that He could touch sinners and take away their “uncleanliness”!
This is an amazing and unexpected New Covenant revelation. People in Jesus’ time would have never expected it and people today still don’t believe it.
Perhaps you are one of those people or perhaps you know one of those people.
They live in lonely fear and isolation. They cannot imagine anyone ever really loving them if they knew how “unclean” they really were. As a consequence, they live in fear—the fear of being known. They live in isolation—the isolation of not really being known. When it comes to God, their situation is even worse—God knows all things, therefore they fear Him!
What Good News to learn that Jesus is untouched by sin, therefore He is free to touch sinners! Not only is Mark interested in establishing Jesus’ authority as Lord, but he is also interested in establishing Jesus as Savior, who takes upon Himself our sin so that He can be the sacrifice for our sin! From Jesus baptism to His death on the cross, Mark is demonstrating to us that Jesus touches sinners.
The man in our text understood this. All his life people had avoided his presence, he saw something different in Jesus so he came and knelt before Jesus saying, “If you will, you can make me clean.”
Do you see in Jesus what this man saw? Jesus’ baptism, ministry of healing and death on the cross are all designed to help us see this. The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, which we will be celebrating today is designed to remind us of this. This is why I close by urging you...

Come to Jesus to be Touched by Him

I don’t know what your week has been like, but I am sure that just like me you have been touched by sin. Today we have before us the Lord’s Supper—the sacrament He has given to His church so that we can be touched by Him. Some of you might feel unworthy to take this sacrament because you feel “unclean.” Indeed, you are unclean! We all are, “for we all like sheep have gone astray.” However, God does not require they we be hosed down with a garden hose and placed in a tub of Silly Bubbles, He invites us to be touched by Him as He invited this leper.
Our Hymn of Preparation today is Come, Ye Sinners; in this hymn we will sing these words:
Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream:
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.
It is a wonderful thing to be touched by the Savior, again I call your attention to the hymn we sang just prior to this sermon:
Shackled by a heavy burden,
‘Neath a load of guilt and shame;
Then the hand of Jesus touched me,
And now I am no longer the same.
Don’t leave this service the same way you were when you came in—Come to Jesus to be Touched by Him.
Let us pray.
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