Saturday, October 06, 2012

Approachable Jesus

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Mark 10:1-16

TO CHEW ON:
"Then they brought little children to Him that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased .... And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them."  Mark 10:13,16

Jesus' disciples had their boundaries in place. When they saw children coming to Jesus, they ordered them and their parents to leave. It seems they saw children as an inconvenience and an unwanted interruption not worthy of Jesus' time.

But Jesus didn't join His disciples in scolding the parents. Instead, He scolded the disciples for sending the little ones away (at least we read He was "greatly displeased").

I wonder what the parents expected Jesus' touch to do for their kids. I wonder after He had taken them in His arms and blessed them, were they forever changed?

Gary Chapman in his book The Love Languages of God holds out the idea that there are five main ways people express and understand love. (He calls them Love Languages. They are: words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gifts, and physical touch). At one point he comes to this conclusion:

"It is my premise that the love languages observed in human relationships are a reflection of divine love. If man is indeed made in the image of God, then we would expect to find all five love languages expressed in the character and nature of God. It is also my premise that God speaks all five love languages fluently and that people tend to be attracted to God most deeply when they sense that God is speaking their primary love language" - Gary Chapman, The Love Languages of God, pp. 28, 29 (republished under the title God Speaks Your Love Language).

In the chapter on touch, Chapman points out how often Jesus touched people. He often touched them when He healed them (John 9:11; Matthew 8:2-3, 15; Matthew 9:27, 29-30). He touched His disciples to revive them on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:7). He washed their feet (John 13:1-4). And here He touched the children.

Touch is certainly the first communication of love that children get. And it can remain a powerful communicator of love throughout life. So what do children 'hear' when we touch them with our hands and our voices? Gentleness? Respect (in that we don't force ourselves on them if they are wary of us)? Purity? Love? What do we communicate to the adults we touch?

May our touching be Jesus' hands, extended in love to touch the world through us.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, what a beautiful picture of You touching, holding, and blessing little children. Help my touch to be Your hand extended in love to whomever You send into my life to touch today. Amen.

MORE: Perverted touch

Josh McDowell in the book Undaunted, tells of how he was sexually abused by a man his mother had hired to help with housework. From ages six to twelve this man touched and caressed Josh in impure ways.

That perverted touch left its mark. In an interview with Jim Cantelon on 100 Huntley Street, McDowell told of how to this day (he's now 72 years old) he cannot stand to be touched. When people put their hands on his shoulders or back when praying for him, he stops and asks them to remove their hands. His reaction shows how long-lasting the effects of wrong, perverted, and impure touch can be.



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