Commonplace Holiness Holiness woven into the fabric of life...

Reversing the Flow of Contagion

Written by
Rev. Bob Buehler:
(the link to the rest of the article is at the bottom)

“This matter of holiness as separating the clean from the unclean led to certain ways of being careful about what one who was ceremonially clean could do or be near, because uncleanness was contagious and holiness therefore was fragile. It is this relationship of contagion and containment that Jesus reversed in his ministry.

“Holiness attaches to the presence of God. That is why the temple, all its utensils, and the priests who offered sacrifice had to be sanctified - cleansed and set apart - for service in God’s presence.

“Jesus came proclaiming the nearness of God’s reign - the kingdom of God - and according to Christian belief he also is the embodiment, as Immanuel, of God’s presence and holiness on earth. But unlike what we find in the case of the temple and its utensils, or even its priests, in the Old Testament, the New Testament shows Jesus touching the unclean and not being defiled thereby. Instead,
he reverses the flow of contagion and the unclean is cleansed. The first of the healing miracles in Luke’s gospel is very explicit about this. It says he reached out and touched a leper, making him clean. Here is what the OT says about a leper:

Lev 13:45-46 (NIV): “The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp.”

“Yet we see [in Luke 5:12-16] that Jesus was approached by a leper who, in violation of this commandment, came to him with a simple request: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” And Jesus reached out and touched him, saying: “I am willing. Be clean.”

“What is the lesson in this for the people of God today? It is that we who follow this Jesus (and to whom he has said: the deeds that I do you shall do also) are to see ourselves not as a separate, threatened class of the endangered righteous who must beware of becoming contaminated by whatever is epidemic in the world; but as healing agents of God, commissioned to contaminate the world with the cleansing, healing effects of God’s love. Thus New Testament holiness produces fearlessness, and this fearlessness is characterized by personal vulnerability, a willingness to touch the untouchable and, if need be, to face the cross.”

Found here:

Powered by Disqus

blog comments powered by Disqus