Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
There is a ministry colleague of mine who has the gift of God’s healing touch. She just has a way of making a pat on the shoulder something significant. Recently, she was encouraging me to continue my training as an artist by giving me some pointers on how to improve a set of skills. As soon as she touch my forearm, I wanted to cry and say thank you. Her touch told me that God had my back and I had nothing to fear about growing in this area of my ministry.
I can only think of a few other people in my circle who have that same gift of healing in their touch. I am not sure if they are even aware of it or even if it matters. What matters is that God always brings one of them across my path exactly when I need it and most times I don’t even know that I need a touch from God.
Reflecting on my recent experience of God through human contact, I thought of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus in John 12:3. “Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
I wonder what she was thinking in that moment. I also wonder what she was thinking before she began anointing him. How did she come to the conclusion that she would do it? Did she carefully plan it out or was it a spur of the moment thing? Did she travail in the spirit or was she decisive without questioning the notion? Did God speak to her in a significant way or did she think she was doing something of her own volition? Did she know the significance of what she was doing or was she just doing what came naturally? What was Mary thinking?
Better yet, did Jesus touch her physically when he rescued her from the ridicule of Judas and elevated her to biblical history? How did Jesus touch her in that moment? Did he take her by the hand? Did he touch her on the forearm? Did he give her a reassuring shoulder pat? How did Jesus come to her rescue?
Of course, biblical context says that he couldn’t have touch her. She was a woman after all. She was not his wife. She was at the bottom of society’s barrel along with the other marginalized people. Yet, I wonder, did Jesus risk culture and caste to touch her?
We will never know, but what we do know is that Jesus always finds a way to touch us when we need it most. Jesus always responds to our human efforts to connect with him. Jesus always honors human contact displayed in his name. Jesus always finds a way to heal us, and sometimes that healing comes from human touch.
In pondering human touch in Jesus name on Tuesday of Holy Week, we must pause at the cross before we close to look at the crucifixion. It was indeed an act of human touch, many acts of human touch, gone wrong. The physicality of the cross cannot be denied. It was brutal, it was heinous, and it was evil transacted upon a body in a way that we in our modern context cannot understand.
Yet, in this horrible human touch, Jesus healed us. Isn’t that ironic? The worst of human touch led to our victory in Christ. The worst of human touch gave us eternal life.
Today, as you reflect, think of two things. First, think of how you can use your human touch, whether through hand or action, to help or heal someone. Second, think of how much it means that our Savior endured the worst type of human touch in order to save us and so we can have a relationship with him in eternity. Think of Jesus, Our Healing Touch.