Congregation Bible Study | Study information for the book: Draw Close to Jehovah
cl chap. 29 ¶11-15 (30 min.)
“He stretched out his hand and touched him”
11, 12. (a) How were lepers regarded in Bible times, but how did Jesus respond when he was approached by a man “full of leprosy”? (b) How might Jesus’ touch have affected the leper, and how does the experience of one doctor illustrate this?
11 Moved to relieve suffering. People with various ailments sensed that Jesus had compassion, so they were drawn to him. This was especially evident when Jesus, with crowds following him, was approached by a man “full of leprosy.” (Luke 5:12) In Bible times, lepers were quarantined so as to protect others from contamination. (Numbers 5:1-4) In time, however, rabbinic leaders fostered a heartless view of leprosy and imposed their own oppressive rules. Notice, though, how Jesus responded to the leper: “There also came to him a leper, entreating him even on bended knee, saying to him: ‘If you just want to, you can make me clean.’ At that he was moved with pity, and he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him: ‘I want to. Be made clean.’ And immediately the leprosy vanished from him.” (Mark 1:40-42) Jesus knew that it was unlawful for the leper even to be there. Yet, instead of turning him away, Jesus was so deeply moved that he did something unthinkable. Jesus touched him!
Luke 5:12 On another occasion while he was in one of the cities, look! there was a man full of leprosy! When he caught sight of Jesus, he fell facedown and begged him: “Lord, if you just want to, you can make me clean.”
Numbers 5:1-4 Jehovah spoke further to Moses, saying: 2 “Command the Israelites to send out of the camp every leprous person and everyone having a discharge and everyone unclean by a dead person. 3 Whether a male or a female, you should send them out. You should send them outside the camp, so that they may not contaminate the camps of those in whose midst I am dwelling.” 4 Therefore, the Israelites did so and sent them outside the camp. Just as Jehovah told Moses, so the Israelites did.
Mark 1:40-42 There also came to him a leper, pleading with him even on bended knee, saying to him: “If you just want to, you can make me clean.” 41 At that he was moved with pity, and he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him: “I want to! Be made clean.” 42 Immediately the leprosy vanished from him, and he became clean.
12 Can you imagine what that touch meant to the leper? To illustrate, consider an experience. Dr. Paul Brand, a leprosy specialist, tells of a leper he treated in India. During the examination, the doctor laid his hand on the leper’s shoulder and explained, through an interpreter, the treatment that the man would have to undergo. Suddenly, the leper began to weep. “Have I said something wrong?” the doctor asked. The interpreter questioned the young man in his language and replied: “No, doctor. He says he is crying because you put your hand around his shoulder. Until he came here no one had touched him for many years.” For the leper who approached Jesus, being touched had even greater meaning. Following that one touch, the disease that had made him an outcast was gone!
13, 14. (a) What procession did Jesus meet when approaching the city of Nain, and what made this an especially sad situation? (b) Jesus’ compassion moved him to take what action in behalf of the widow of Nain?
13 Moved to dispel grief. Jesus was deeply moved by the grief of others. Consider, for example, the account at Luke 7:11-15. It took place when, about halfway through his ministry, Jesus approached the outskirts of the Galilean city of Nain. As Jesus got near the gate of the city, he met a funeral procession. The circumstances were especially tragic. A young man who had been an only son had died, and the mother was a widow. Once before, she had likely been in such a procession—that of her husband. This time it was her son, who perhaps had been her only support. The crowd accompanying her may have included additional mourners chanting lamentations and musicians playing mournful tunes. (Jeremiah 9:17, 18; Matthew 9:23) Jesus’ gaze, however, became fixed on the grief-stricken mother, no doubt walking near the bier that carried the body of her son.
Luke 7:11-15 Soon afterward he traveled to a city called Naʹin, and his disciples and a large crowd were traveling with him. 12 As he got near the gate of the city, why look! there was a dead man being carried out, the only son of his mother. Besides, she was a widow. A considerable crowd from the city was also with her. 13 When the Lord caught sight of her, he was moved with pity for her, and he said to her: “Stop weeping.” 14 With that he approached and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. Then he said: “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 And the dead man sat up and started to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Jeremiah 9:17, 18 This is what Jehovah of armies says,‘Behave with understanding. Summon the women who sing dirges,And send for the skilled women to come,18 So that they may hurry and raise a lamentation for us,So that our eyes may stream with tearsAnd our eyelids trickle with water.
Matthew 9:23 When, now, he came into the ruler’s house and caught sight of the flute players and the crowd making a commotion,
14 Jesus “was moved with pity” for the bereaved mother. In a reassuring tone, he said to her: “Stop weeping.” Unbidden, he approached and touched the bier. The bearers—and perhaps the rest of the crowd—came to a halt. With the voice of authority, Jesus spoke to the lifeless body: “Young man, I say to you, Get up!” What happened next? “The dead man sat up and started to speak” as if awakened from a deep sleep! Then follows a most touching statement: “And [Jesus] gave him to his mother.”
15. (a) The Bible accounts about Jesus’ being moved with pity show what connection between compassion and action? (b) How can we imitate Jesus in this regard?
15 What do we learn from these accounts? In each case, notice the connection between compassion and action. Jesus could not see the plight of others without being moved with pity, and he could not feel such compassion without acting on it. How can we follow his example? As Christians, we have an obligation to preach the good news and to make disciples. Primarily, we are motivated by love for God. Let us remember, though, that this is also a work of compassion. When we feel for people as Jesus did, our heart will move us to do all we can to share the good news with them. (Matthew 22:37-39) What about showing compassion to fellow believers who are suffering or grieving? We cannot miraculously cure physical suffering or raise the dead. However, we can put compassion into action by taking the initiative to express our concern or provide appropriate practical help.—Ephesians 4:32.
Matthew 22:37-39 He said to him: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 The second, like it, is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’
Ephesians 4:32 But become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.
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