Of the many miracles performed by Jesus, the most memorable were the healings. We know that he could heal without being near or even seeing the individual, as in the healing of the centurion's servant, (Matthew 8:5-13) and that of the Canaanite woman's daughter. (Matthew 15:22-28) We know that Jesus could heal a person without touching them, but sometimes he did reach out to them. It seems that Jesus knew who was desperately in need of an affirming, human touch.
Perhaps the most remarkable healing touch was that of the man with leprosy, in Galilee. Nobody touched a leper. The disease was deadly and feared contagious. Lepers were separated from society, forced to live in colonies on the outside of the towns, away from family and loved ones. The man must have been very brave, because he approached Jesus, who reached out and touched him. He was immediately healed.(Matthew 8:2-3)
Jesus touched a twelve year old girl in Capernaum. Jews would not touch a dead body because they would become ceremonially unclean. This girl had died before Jesus arrived, but he took her hand and life returned. (Matthew 9:25)
He touched the funeral bier, as a young man was being transported for burial, restoring his life and returning him to his mother.(Luke 7:14-15)
Peter's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever. We aren't told that her life was in danger, but Jesus touched her hand and she was restored to health. (Matthew 8:14-15)
Certainly, we should know the power of human touch. From the time we are born, we respond to gentle touches, caresses and cuddling. Touch is the earliest form of parent-child communication. Touching on the back and legs is soothing to babies, while touching on the face, belly and feet tends to stimulate.
Doctors have noted that newborns, who are touched gain weight faster and have superior mental and motor skill development to those who may have been cared for in an institution where they received little physical touch. Touch communicates value, assuring a child or an adult that he is accepted and loved.
We don't grow out of our need for the human touch, even though social concerns cause many to avoid affection. Appropriate touching, such as hand holding, hugs, pats on the back, gentle touch on the arms or shoulders, have been shown to slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones and possibly enhance immune function.
- Ask God, who in your world - a neighbor, an acquaintance, or a relative - is in need of a simple touch or a hug, today.
- Decide to begin and end each day with a hug for each loved one. If not a hug - then with a touch that is appropriate for each individual comfort zone.
- Make someone's day with a simple pat on the back.
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