Yesterday, I was reading Ed Welch's book, Shame Interrupted, when he said something that was really insightful. While I read a lot of books, it is very infrequently that I have to stop and really think through something like I did with this statement. He was talking about the interactions of Jesus with the people he healed. Take for instance the woman who had a bleeding problem for 12 years. In her cleanings, there was a touch interaction with Jesus (in her case, she touched Him). In their culture of cleanness and uncleanness, there was something really wrong with this. In the touching of someone that was unclean, the uncleanness transferred to you. Now you became unclean.
But that is the hope when it comes to Jesus. The hope is that he would come and take our uncleanness from us. Not just heal us, but remove the uncleanness about us. At this point, Welch opens up these stories to show a window into the gospel message. He says,
"With every intentional touch there was a transaction being made. 'Power' goes out from Jesus to the person who was touched. Splice together various Scriptures and you will see that power is a loaded term that includes
- holiness conferred (consecration)
- forgiveness of sins
- cleansing and purification
- identification with Jesus' status.
Meanwhile, the unclean person gave something to Jesus, the scapegoat. He or she gave
- shameful acts
- victimization and its contamination
This is the gospel: God touches us. All the talk about cleanness and uncleanness points to this divine touch. This is what the universe was waiting for. It is an unbalanced transaction that displaces our shame and replaces it with holiness. The apostle Paul put it this way: 'For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, sot hat in him we might become the righteousness of God' (2 Corinthians 5:21). With our touch, Jesus becomes our scapegoat. In his touch, Jesus takes our sin and absorbs our shame (Psalm 69:9; Romans 15:3), and we receive his righteousness. If you prefer symmetry in your relationships, in which you give a gift of similar value to the one you receive, you have not yet touched Jesus." (135-136).
There is no doubt that many people would long to touch Jesus today. But you can. That's the glorious nature of the gospel. He can still take your shame and uncleanness. He can and will give holiness and cleansing and healing. Through faith and repentance of sin, the unclean person can experience the touch of Jesus.