A few years ago I was walking through an art museum, turned a corner, and had my breath taken away. It wasn’t a statue, a painting or an exhibit. It was the sign hanging over an exhibition. The sign read: “Touch Me, I’m Sick.”
It hung above the entrance to a traveling display that featured photographs from Charles Peterson. Peterson was at the epicenter of the birth of grunge music in Seattle in the late 1980’s and early 90’s. The exhibit mostly contained archived pictures of before-they-were-famous grunge bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. As a fan of grunge music, I appreciated seeing the images.
Our Silent Cry
Interestingly, I found myself repeatedly walking over to stare at the name of the exhibit: “Touch Me, I’m Sick.” I learned that a song title from a band called, Mudhoney, inspired the name of the display. I studied the photographs of Mudhoney, looking for some clue to what enabled them to capture what I believe is the human condition so succinctly.
I think the name of that exhibit is the silent cry of every person on this planet. Our problem is that we all know ourselves. I can’t see inside of you, but I do know how repulsive I can be on the inside. I’m aware of how selfish motives can corrupt even the best things I do. I know how ugly my thoughts can become because I see the inside of me and you see the inside of you. And we understand that deep down, we are sick.
And so we crave compassion and wish for someone who could understand and still care. We ache for healing. We long for contact. Not just the feel of skin on our skin, but the caress of compassion, a hand that can bring healing. We all echo those words: Touch me. I’m sick.
A Plea For Help
Jesus came as a response to that cry. God is Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. And Jesus came to touch the sick and bring God’s healing to earth.
One striking example is in Mark 1. Mark begins the story, “A man with leprosy came to him…” (Mark 1:40a). At the time lepers were considered human pollution. Society rejected them and banished to live in leper colonies. When in the vicinity of non-leprous people, they had to shout, “Unclean! Unclean!”
Mark doesn’t provide the background behind this man’s action, but sheer desperation must have erupted into extraordinary courage the day this leper decided to approach Jesus. As he came near, he probably hid behind trees to avoid the fear-induced shrieks of panic his appearance would have provoked from all who saw him.
“A man with leprosy came to him,” Mark writes, “and begged on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean'” (Mark 1:40b). I find it fascinating that the leper didn’t say, “If you are able, you can make me clean,” but instead, “If you are willing.” He didn’t doubt Jesus’ capacity to do a miracle, only his compassion.
We all know how corrupt we can be on the inside, but this man had become tainted even on the outside. Our inner motives can be impure but his outer flesh had become infected, as well. Our polluted thoughts are internalized, where no one can see. But, this leper’s skin had become defiled where everyone could see. We bury our problems within us while hoping no one notices, but this man’s issues had oozed out of him and taken over his body for all to see. That day he gave voice to our silent cry. He ran up to Jesus, dropped to his knees, and pleaded, “Touch me, I’m sick.”
God Can Heal
Mark concludes, “Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man, ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately, all leprosy left his body, and he was cured” (Mark 1:41-42).
Somehow this leper had heard about Jesus’ power, but not his character. If he knew of Jesus’s loving nature, he never would have doubted his compassion or his willingness to place his hand on the ailing. Because that’s why Jesus came. He came to comfort the weak, to nurture them and heal them with his strength.
God looks down with love at the broken world that he created. He wants to heal the afflictions in our society. God does the same thing through us today. He transforms us through his strength; then sends us out to encourage a dying world.
Jesus knocks on the door of your life. He wants to come in and comfort you in your suffering and heal you with his strength. Will you let Him?
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