November 26, 2002 • By Ed Wrather
When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. - Matthew 8:1-3.
Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ - Matthew 19:13-14.
Listening this morning to Michael Carneal in an interview shown on the Today Show there was something that struck me as being needed by many, especially Christians. Michael Carneal was a 14-year-old student at Heath High School in West Paducah, Kentucky where one morning he shot and killed three fellow students and wounded five others. Those students were gathered praying around a flagpole. It was and is a horrendous, terrible thing that destroyed lives and changed lives in a devastating way. The words that I picked up on this morning were that Carneal said that he did not have anyone to talk to prior to the shooting including his parents. At least he did not believe that they would listen. Certainly, that was not a valid reason or excuse for shooting someone, but it should make all of us think.
How approachable are you? The word “approachable” is defined in the dictionary as: “easy to meet or converse or do business with” and as “capable of being approached; accessible.” Are we following the example of our Lord? Jesus was (and is) the ultimate in approachability. Lepers were to have no contact with non-lepers and were banned from even their own families. Lepers had to announce their presence by shouting as they walked “unclean,” “unclean.” No “clean” person was to touch the “unclean” or they would also become “unclean.” Jesus not only allowed lepers to approach and talk to Him, He also touched them. The ultimate in cleanness on earth touched the unclean.
Jesus also was approachable not only by adults but also by children. Jesus also placed His hands on the children and prayed for them (Of course the children were not unclean but considered by the disciples and others as being unworthy of attention by a great teacher.). Many others considered outcasts by the Jewish society were able to approach Jesus including tax collectors, adulteresses, women of ill repute, and Samaritans. Why did Jesus allow Himself to be approached by people like these? Jesus explains in Matthew 9:10-12, “Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard that, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.’”
How approachable are you? Would any of these “unclean” people be allowed to visit in your home? Would any of these people be able to talk with you outside of your home? Would any of these people be able to call you and talk with you by telephone? Would you even allow any of these people to communicate with you by email? Before the spiritually sick will be healed, we must allow them to have contact with us. We must be approachable. Are you?