The Healing Touch
By Rev. Canon David B. Tabo-oy
v29Jesus and his disciples, including James and John, left the synagogue and went straight to the home of Simon and Andrew. v30Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a fever, and as soon as Jesus arrived, he was told about her. v31He went to her, took her by the hand, and helped her up. The fever left her, and she began to wait on them.v32After the sun had set and evening had come, people brought to Jesus all the sick and those who had demons. v33All the people of the town gathered in front of the house. v34Jesus healed many who were sick with all kinds of diseases and drove out many demons. He would not let the demons say anything, because they knew who he was.v35Very early the next morning, long before daylight, Jesus got up and left the house. He went out of town to a lonely place, where he prayed. v36But Simon and his companions went out searching for him, v37and when they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”v38But Jesus answered, “We must go on to the other villages around here. I have to preaching them also, because that is why I came.”v39So he traveled all over Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and driving out demons.– Mark 1:29-39
At this point in his ministry, people are literally flocking to be near Jesus. The story of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law illustrates that Jesus is the one who can heal our hurts and give us hope. The source of Jesus’ power was a result of his relationship to God, as evidenced in this story. Peter’s mother-in-law has a fever and is so weak that she cannot get out of her sickbed. Her condition is of concern to the disciples, and so Jesus is ushered in to see her. Perhaps a fever would not warrant such concern in our day, but it certainly did in Jesus’ day. Jesus touches her hand with his hand. There is that touch that we see in Jesus’ ministry over and over again. She rises up at once and the fever leaves her. It is not a very dramatic scene; there isn’t any music or fanfare. There aren’t any spells or incantations. There is only a hand touching another hand. There is only Jesus reaching out to this sick woman.
And then a horde of sick, demonized, and injured people swarm Jesus, begging for healing. What we saw happen to Simon’s mother-in-law, we see happen to a multitude in the village. Jesus reached out his hand to a sick woman. Now he reaches out his hand to the multitude just as he reaches out his hand to us. Jesus is here to heal us. Jesus is here to restore us to the community we lost. Jesus is here to restore us to a place of service to our community, so we can find dignity and purpose again. This is what Jesus does: he brings people back to wholeness and health. Jesus can bring us back to wholeness and health. The healing touch of Jesus.
Jesus reaches out his hand to touch the woman’s feverish hand, surely shocking those present who knew that no woman was permitted to touch a Rabbi. Again, Jesus sets aside the established norm to bring into being that which God intends for every creature, life abundant and whole (John 10:10). He heals this woman by restoring her to life in community. Illness is the condition where we are bounded by ourselves alone, collapsed in upon ourselves and isolated from others. Illness is the condition where our world is ourselves only and we are the main preoccupation. Jesus heals this illness by restoring a fullness of life that breaks the bounds of self pre-occupation and opens up a world of love, forgiveness and deep relationships of compassion, mercy and peace.
This is the true purpose of healing that Jesus offers then and now — that you and I and all persons would find a place to serve freely and with gratitude; restored to community and focused upon a larger world than self alone. As one friend put it, we are saved to serve. We are made whole in Christ, in order to be agents of healing in the name of Christ — proclaiming good news by the way we live with others and for others. We need to live and believe that Jesus is the Messiah who can heal our hurts and change our lives. When we truly understand and appreciate all that Christ has done for us, then our lives can become lives of thanksgiving and service to others. Jesus touches our lives that we too may touch other lives and will lead us and them to an ever-deepening relationship with God in Jesus Christ.
Charles Hoffacker writes, “All true healing is the work of Christ. Each of us need to ask ourselves now, “Where is Christ at work healing me? In what aspect of my life do I feel his touch, do I see his light? How is Christ now at work in my life to change me so that I become the person God wills for me to be?
Let us pray.
Gracious God, we come before you this moment and ask for healing. We lift up before you all those who are in need of your healing touch. We pray for those who are struggling with physical, spiritual, and emotional pain. Make them whole, restore to them the joy of your creation, use us to be your body at work in the world bringing your healing touch to all who are in need of your grace and mercy. May our lives be lives of thanksgiving and service to you. Amen.**