I made sure to get to the little gym in our complex by ten to eight. The last couple days that lady from the other building has beat me to the treadmill and I've had to use the stationary bike. I only run for twenty minutes so I figured I could be use it and be done by the time she got there. I turned the treadmill to my usual 5.5 speed while putting my ear buds in my ears. I was listening to the book of Matthew. I was about 0.5km in when I heard the words out of chapter 8
"When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him, And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. "
The words pierced by heart, as they often do. As I ran I smiled (and yes, I probably looked creepy with my smile because I also had the typical "I'm running so I look pained" look on my face at the same time, so my smile probably looked more like a grimace.)
I smiled because I was reminded why I can serve Jesus so passionately and unashamedly. Because he is worth following.
Lepers were outcasts. Leprosy was very contagious. They had to yell out "Unclean! Unclean!" everywhere they went so people would know to avoid them, to cross to the other side of the street, and most importantly, not touch them. And here is Jesus. What does he do? He reached out and touched the man. He could have just said the words and the man would have been healed, but Jesus chose to place a reassuring hand on the man. I wonder when the last time was that that man had been touched by another human being?
That's the Jesus that I know. He is the God who came down to earth to walk with us in all of our muck. He hung around with "sinners" and outcasts. He touched lepers, he had compassion on prostitutes and those we would consider "unclean". He calls us christians to also be people who stretch out our hands and "touch the lepers". To reach out with compassion and unconditional love to the loveless, to talk to the creepy, to have compassion for the sick even if they brought it on themselves, to show empathy to the bullies, to talk to the intolerable annoying people. If Jesus touched a leper, I can talk to the smelly kid.