by Alan L. Foote
Script and Eighteen Story Lines Available Upon Request
When Jesus came down from the hill, great crowds followed him. A man with a skin disease came to Jesus. The man bowed down before him and said, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man and said, “I will; be thou clean.” And immediately the man was healed from his dreadful disease. Then Jesus said to him, “See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto him.”
I wonder about this man who felt Jesus’ compassionate touch. He makes one appearance, has one request, and receives one touch. But that one touch changed his life forever. And I wonder – maybe the rest of the story went something like this:
For five years no one touched me. No one. Not one person. Not my wife. Not my child. Not my friends. No one touched me. They saw me. They spoke to me. I heard love in their voices. I saw concern in their eyes. But I didn’t feel their touch. There was no touch. Not once. No one touched me.
What you take for granted, I longed for. Handshakes. Warm embraces. A tap on the shoulder to get my attention. Such moments were taken from my world. No one touched me. No one dared bump into me. What I would have given to be bumped into, to be caught in a crowd, for my shoulder to brush against another’s. But for five years it has not happened. How could it? I was not allowed on the streets. I was not permitted in my synagogue. Not even welcome in my own home.
I was untouchable. I was a leper. And no one touched me. Until today.
One year during harvest my grip on the scythe seemed to weaken. The tips of my fingers lost feeling, first one then another. Soon I could grip the tool but scarcely felt it. By the end of the season I felt nothing at all. I said nothing to my wife, but I know she suspected something.
One afternoon I plunged my hands into a basin of water to wash. The water turned red. My finger was bleeding, badly. But I didn’t even know I had been wounded. I felt nothing. And it wasn’t just my hand. “It’s on your clothes, too,” my wife said softly from behind me. I looked down at the bloody spots on my robe. I must have had other unfelt wounds. For the longest time I stood over the basin, staring at my hand. Somehow I knew my life was being forever changed.
“Shall I go with you to tell the priest?’ she asked, knowing what the law required.
“No,” I sighed, “I’ll go alone.”
I turned and looked into her tear-filled eyes. Then I bent down and stroked our little daughter’s cheek, saying nothing. What could I say? I looked again at my wife. She touched my shoulder, and with my good hand, I touched hers. It would be our last touch.
The priest didn’t touch me. He looked at my hand, now wrapped in a rag. He looked at my face, now shadowed in sorrow. I’ve never blamed him for what he said. He was only doing as he was taught. He covered his mouth and extended his hand, palm forward. “You’re unclean.” he told me. With one pronouncement I lost my family, my farm, my future, my friends.
Five years have passed, and no one has touched me since, until today. Oh, how I horrified those who saw me. Five years of leprosy had done terrible things to my body. At the sight of me, fathers grabbed their children. Mothers covered their faces. Children pointed and stared. And – always – the shouts of “Unclean! Unclean! Unclean!” I was no longer a person; I was a disease.
The rags on my body couldn’t hide my sores. Nor could the wrap on my face hide the rage in my eyes . . . and heart. I didn’t even try to hide it. How many nights did I shake my crippled fist at the silent sky? “What did I do to deserve this?” but never a reply.
Oh, yes, I was angry. Angry, and desperate. And I think that’s what made me take the step I took today. Of course, it was risky. but what did I have to lose? He calls himself the Son of God. Either he will hear my complaint and kill me or accept my demands and heal me. Those were my thoughts as I began pushing my way through the crowded street. I came to him as a defiant man, moved not by faith but by a desperate anger.
But then I saw him, and when my eyes met his, I was changed. I’m a farmer, not a poet, so I cannot find the words to describe what I saw. All I can say is that Judean mornings are sometimes so fresh and the sunrises so glorious that to look at them is to forget the heat of the day before and the hurt of times past. When I looked at his face, I saw a Judean morning.
Before he spoke, I knew he cared for me. Somehow I knew he hated this disease as much as, no, more than I hate it. My rage became trust, and my anger became hope.
I waited until he was only paces away, then I stepped out.
He stopped and looked in my direction as did dozens of others. Fear swept across the crowd. Arms flew in front of faces.
“Unclean!” someone shouted. But I scarcely noticed them. Their panic I’d seen a thousand times before. His compassion, however, I’d never beheld. Everyone stepped back except him. He stepped toward me. Toward me.
I did not move. I just spoke. “Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Had he healed me with a word, I would have been thrilled. Had he healed me with a prayer; I would have rejoiced. But he wasn’t satisfied with just speaking to me. He drew near me. He touched me. No one had touched me in five long, lonely years. Until today!
“I will.” His words were as tender as his touch. “Be thou clean.”
And I was. I was!
And I will never forget the one who dared to touch me. He could have healed me with just a word. But he wanted to do more than heal me. He wanted to honor me, to make me “real” again, to bless me. Imagine that . . . unworthy of the touch of a man, yet worthy of the touch of God.
The touch did not heal the leper’s disease, you know. Mathew is careful to mention that it was the pronouncement and not the touch of Christ that cured him. Imagine – the infection was banished by a word from the Savior. The loneliness, however, was treated by his touch. Oh, and one more observation. Despite the suffering, the humiliation and the nightmarish loneliness experienced by the Leper – if it had not been for his leprosy, more-than-likely, he would not have ever had his personal encounter with the Savior; his Savior’s Touch...
Would like to see this as a TV Series, as per "Touched by an Angel"