Kruiz edited
Healing Touch
St. Joseph, Guardian of Jesus
20 March 2017
God's touch is healing. God in Christ took our humanity that He might really touch us. What He touched, body and soul, become subject to the resurrection that Christ experienced as the first born from the dead. On the cross His hands stretched out in cruciform shape reaching out to touch our mortal nature hand to hand. He lifted His face to our death's head, breathing the fading breath of His life into us. The body begotten of Mary touched our mortal corpse suffusing it with immortality.
 
But opponents of the gospel in every age have argued against both the healing touch of Christ's death and the peculiarly humiliating way it was inflicted upon Him. Why does He need to die? And if He must die, why must He be crucified? Those opponents of the gospel question the necessity of His death, because if God had desired to redeem mankind from sin and death He could have done so by a mere divine fiat. God "could" do anything. Yes, of course. But we ought not use our own presuppositions about what God "could" do to overrule the clear revelation of God about what He did do. All our "could-ing" could deprive God of His own will and replace it with ours. Furthermore, it seems rather a cold and distant method of redemption, as if God would say about our sin, "Sin? Oh, never mind. I'll just overlook it this time." A divine fiat hurled from heaven is hardly a touch from God. His death was made necessary because He wanted a full and complete human nature subject to birth and death just as ours is. He touches us using His experience of what is ours. He must die for us to be touched by Him. He was born to die and to die He must be born.
 
But people object that a nicer way for Him to die could have been found, as though God should be subject to our prejudices about humane executions in which government is required to find a nicer way to put criminals to death. But He undergoes execution by crucifixion that he might shape Himself so that He can touch us to the core and redeem us fully. He is lifted up from the earth that He might lift us. He is nailed down, that we might be freed. He dies that we might live. He grasps death that death might die. He touches our deadness that we might receive the life of His resurrection. Gregory of Nyssa (d. c. 394) wrote eloquently defending these truths in his Great Catechism. He knows of the healing touch.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Gregory of Nyssa
 
"What other objection is alleged by our adversaries? This; that (to take the better view) it was altogether needless that that transcendent divine Being should submit to the experience of death, but He might independently of this, through the superabundance of His power, have wrought with ease His purpose. And still, if for some indefinable reason or other it was absolutely necessary that He die, at least He ought not to have been subjected to the insult of such an ignominious kind of death. What death, they ask, could be more ignominious than that by crucifixion?
 
"What answer can we make to this? The death is rendered necessary by the birth. He who had determined once for all to share the nature of man must pass through all the peculiar conditions of that nature. Seeing, then, that the life of man is determined between two boundaries, had He, after having passed the one, not touched the other that follows, His proposed design would have remained only half fulfilled, from His not having touched that second condition of our nature.
 
"Perhaps, however, one who exactly understands the mystery would be justified rather in saying that, instead of the death occurring in consequence of the birth, the birth on the contrary was accepted by Him for the sake of the death; for He who lives forever did not sink down into the conditions of a bodily birth from any need to live, but to call us back from death to life. Since, then, there was needed a lifting up from death for the whole of our nature, He stretches forth a hand as it were to prostrate man, and stooping down to our dead corpse He came so far within the grasp of death as to touch a state of deadness, and then in His own body to bestow on our nature the principle of the resurrection, raising as He did by His power along with Himself the whole man."

Gregory of Nyssa, The Great Catechism, 32
Matthew 8:1-15

When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.  And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean."  And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.  And Jesus said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them." 
 
When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him,  "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly."  And he said to him, "I will come and heal him."  But the centurion replied, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."  When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, "Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.  I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,  while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."  And to the centurion Jesus said, "Go; let it be done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed at that very moment. 
 
And when Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.(ESV)
Prayer
Almighty God, from the house of Your servant David You raised up Joseph to be the guardian of Your incarnate Son and the husband of His mother, Mary.  Grant us grace to follow the example of this faithful workman in heeding Your counsel and obeying Your commands; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
 
For Richard Zoch, that he would strengthened as he undergoes therapy
 
For pious Christian young people, who are seeking spouses, that the Lord would send to them faithful partners with whom they could start a Christian family
 
For Bob Bennett, and the work of the Luther Academy all over the world, that the Lord would bless the labor
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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