A HEALING TOUCH
God created the human body to have five sense organs: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Most of those senses are concentrated in a very small area—the eyes, ears, nose, and tongue—but the sense of touch is unique. The sense of touch is distributed throughout the body. There are nerve endings in the skin and other parts of the body which send messages to the brain. Touch identifies contact, heat, cold and pain. Hairs on the skin magnify the sensitivity and act as an early warning system to the body.
~ Pastor Ben Golisch
Studies have shown the important of touch beyond the obvious. For example, a mother touching her baby—skin to skin—has a calming effect on the baby. That increased touch causes babies to sleep better and cry less, and stimulates their brains. It also increases the bond between mother and child.
Gary Chapman in his The Five Love Languages identifies physical touch as one of those five languages. Think of how valuable a well-timed hug is in your relationship or in time of crisis. That kind of touch communicates something special, a comfort and emotional bond that goes well beyond the stimulation of nerves.
Touch played an important role in Jesus’ ministry. A man with leprosy came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if you are willing you can make me clean.” Jesus touched him and cleansed him of his leprosy. He touched Peter’s mother-in-law, and her fever left her. He touched the eyes of a blind man and restored his sight. He touched the ears of a deaf man, said, “Ephphatha,” and his ears were opened. He touched the little children to bless them. And he touched the ear of the soldier in the garden, giving back what Peter had cut off.
It wasn’t just that Jesus touched others. Others wanted to touch Jesus. The woman who had been bleeding for 12 years touched Jesus’ cloak as he walked by and was healed. We hear that many seeking healing did the same. And then there was Thomas. Thomas stated, “Unless I put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Jesus appeared to him and the disciples and said, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and out it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas touched and believed.
Then there was John. When Jesus appeared to him in glory on the island of Patmos, we are told that John fell down as the dead. “Then [Jesus] placed his right hand on me and said, ‘Do not be afraid...’” John had felt that same calming hand years earlier on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus’ healing touch calms all our fears!
So how does Jesus touch us today? Unlike Thomas or John, we don’t feel that warm, sturdy hand. But he does touch us with water and the Word at our baptism. He touches our lips and tongue with his body and blood in the Sacrament. He touches our hearts with the comforting message of the gospel. And he can use the touch of a close Christian friend as his personal representative.
A phone company used to advertise, “Reach out and touch someone.” You could be that healing touch as you reach out in Christ. He has already reached out and touched you.