"How shall I feel at the judgment, if multitudes of missed opportunities pass before me in full review, and all my excuses prove to be disguises of my cowardice and pride?" - W. E. Sangster.And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, - Mar 8:22-23a. ESV
A woman named Rose Crawford had been blind for 50 years. "I just can't believe it!" she gasped as the doctor lifted the bandages from her eyes after her recovery from delicate surgery in an Ontario hospital. She wept for joy when for the first time in her life a dazzling and beautiful world of form and colour greeted eyes that now were able to see.
The amazing thing about the story, however, is that 20 years of her blindness had been unnecessary. She didn't know that surgical techniques had been developed, and that an operation could have restored her vision at the age of 30. The doctor said, "She just figured there was nothing that could be done about her condition. Much of her life could have been different."
As I read the news account of her case, some questions came to mind. Why did she continue to assume that her situation was hopeless? Had no one told her about the wonderful advances in eye surgery? Then I thought of the plight of those unreached by the Gospel. How many will go on living in moral blindness unless we bring them to the Saviour? Millions will never know anything but spiritual darkness because no one has shared with them the Light that has come into the world. – Source unknown.
THE TOUCH OF ENCOURAGEMENT
The Scriptures tell us that "they", perhaps this man's friends or family, brought him to Jesus. It is the concept of being a "Stretcher Bearer." These people had enough faith and action to know, that if they could get him to Jesus he could be healed. The Scriptures say they "begged" Jesus to touch this man.
Do we believe like this? Do we believe Jesus can still heal and change the lives of people? After the request to touch the blind man, Jesus touches him with a touch of encouragement... “And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village,” Why? When Jesus usually healed on the spot, why would he take this man out of the town of Bethsaida?
Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. - Matt 11:20-22.
The city of Bethsaida had become too hardened to be touched by Jesus. Sad, but the fact remains true today. Many in and out of the kingdom have hardened hearts toward the true touch of Jesus. That's why our churches are empty with no prayers for healing. God is moving and working among us to touch us.
But this man, thanks to friends, would be the recipient of a touch of encouragement. As Jesus took this man by the hand to lead him, I believe this TOUCH OF ENCOURAGEMENT was...
A PERSONAL TOUCH... Tender and Loving
Our church, town, families, friends, strangers; all need a touch from us in the most personal way we can touch them. Jesus shows us how, by showing an INTEREST in the man. I'm sure this man was perhaps lonely and discouraged, having to live in darkness. And now all attention for the moment, was being given to him. The world wants to know that we are interested in them, people really want to know that God loves them, and they are looking for the love through us. Jesus took the time to touch!
During the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, sentenced a soldier to be shot for his crimes. The execution was to take place at the ringing of the evening curfew bell. However, the bell did not sound. The soldier's fiancé had climbed into the belfry and clung to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from striking.
When she was summoned by Cromwell to account for her actions, she wept as she showed him her bruised and bleeding hands. Cromwell's heart was touched and he said, "Your lover shall live because of your sacrifice. Curfew shall not ring tonight!" - Our Daily Bread.
A PATIENT TOUCH... No Hurry.
Hope was born as Jesus took the time for this man. God is so patient with us, while we live in an "impatient generation." We've heard of folks who… “Stand at the microwave and scream hurry up!" And with people we have even less patience! But Jesus was patient to bring a hopeful encouragement to this man. We must do the same.
A POWERFUL TOUCH... Sensitive.
I believe that as Jesus took the man by the hand, the man knew that this touch was one of power, that could bring healing, Jesus' touch was powerful in that it was, comforting, it was as if Jesus seemed to say "allow me," it was a sensitive touch.
"We must feel toward our people as a father toward his children; yea, the most tender love of a mother must not surpass ours. We must even travail in birth, till Christ be formed in them. They should see that we care for no outward thing, neither liberty, nor honor, nor life, in comparison to their salvation... When the people see that you truly love them, they will hear anything from you...Oh therefore, see that you feel a tender love for your people in your hearts, and let them perceive it in your speech and conduct. Let them see that you spend and are spent for their sakes." - Richard Baxter.
It is a risk to seek the touch from Jesus that will encourage us. Why? Because we must change. This man, whom Jesus healed was never the same again! Will we let Jesus touch us to encourage us? To comfort us? Even if it calls for us to give up a very sensitive and personal part of our life?
Be assured that Jesus' touch, is a touch of encouragement.
Loving Father, I thank you for your touch of encouragement. Help me by the power of the Holy Spirit, to reach out and touch others with the same encouragement. Change me Lord, for your glory and for the extension of your Kingdom, in Jesus wonderful and mighty name I pray, amen!