The Untouchables – The Dead Person

The Untouchables – The Dead Person

The Untouchables – The Dead Person.

‘Whoever touches the dead body of anyone and fails to purify himself defiles the Lord’s tabernacle. That person must be cut off from Israel. Because the water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on him, he is unclean; his uncleanness remains on him.” (Numbers 19:13).

In Jesus’ ministry of touch, He had no hesitation in breaking the purity laws of Judaism. In two of His three resurrection miracles, He used His touch as the healing mechanism. As we see all through the Gospels, the hands of Jesus are life-giving and health-restoring. He indeed has proved Himself to be the Resurrection and the Life as He touched the untouchable corpse.

Resurrection #1“Jesus went to a town called Nain, and His disciples and a large crowd went along with Him. As He approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out – the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, His heart went out to her and He said to her, ‘Don’t cry.’ Then He went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.” (John 7:11-15).

According to the Law of Moses, to touch something associated with death brought ceremonial defilement. If one touched a corpse, one had to go through a purification process to become clean again and restored to fellowship under the Law. Jesus once again was walking through the towns and villages, and He sees a dead man being carried out through the outer gate of Nain for burial outside the town. The coffins then were pretty much open stretchers, a litter with the dead person laying on top where everyone could see him. This particular dead man was a widow’s only son, her only means of support. She would now have to rely on people in the village or perhaps extended family to provide what she needs to survive. If that didn’t work, she would have to resort to begging for her food and living on the streets. Jesus knew all of this, and He “had compassion” on her and her predicament. The Greek word here means that Jesus felt this situation deeply, the word meaning ‘intestines.” Jesus’ grief for this widow went all the way to His gut, His deep innards.

Jesus witnessed all this and immediately walked straight to the coffin and touched it while the pallbearers stopped and wondered Jesus was doing. Everyone knew that those who were carrying the coffin, and now Jesus, and everyone else who either touched the dead son or the coffin would have to be declared unclean for seven days, and then go through the purification process in the ritual baths and the priest. Jesus was now considered unclean in the eyes of the religious establishment, but that didn’t stop Him. At the same time He was touching the coffin, Jesus told the dead man to get up, and he did. He even started talking as soon as he was raised back to life. I wish that had been recorded. I wonder what he said? The people witnessing this resurrection were of course astounded, and they felt the reverent fear of God. They glorified their Lord God and declared that a great prophet has come among them. The word of the resurrection spread like wildfire, of course, reaching the entire region and even into all of Judea. There is no report of Jesus ever entering the purification process. His Life overpowered death, and there was no need to be cleansed from anything.

Resurrection #2 = “Just then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with Him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying… Then someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler, and said, ‘Your daughter is dead. Don’t bother the Teacher anymore.’ Hearing this, Jesus said to Jarius, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.’ When He arrived at the house of Jairus, He did not let anyone go in with Him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. Meanwhile all the people were wailing and mourning for the girl. ‘Stop wailing,’ Jesus said.’ ‘She is not dead but asleep.’ They laughed at Him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!’ Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.’ ” (Luke 8:41-42, 49-56).

It was unusual for Jesus to see a highly-esteemed and honored man in a village to bow at His feet, but there was Jairus, doing just that. We can feel the desperation of Jairus as he pleads with Jesus to come and heal his dying daughter. On the way to his house, a servant of Jairus came and told him the tragic news, his daughter is dead, and there is no hope for her recovery from her sickness. Jesus told Jairus to keep the faith, and they continued to his house. They were met there by a huge party of mourners, crying and grieving at the little girl’s death. Jesus then used the euphemism for death, calling her “asleep.” Jesus knew that he was about to raise the girl from the dead. The mourners were more than skeptical, of course, and they laughed at Jesus, wondering what Jesus was even talking about. Everyone knew this girl was dead!

Jesus didn’t listen to the mourners and went into the house of Jairus, along with his three disciples and the dad and mom. He went straight to the death bed of the girl. He reached out to her, took her dead hand in His fully alive hand, and spoke to her, saying, ‘My child, get up!’ Astoundingly, the girl came back to life at Jesus’ touch and word of healing. She proceeded to climb out of her death bed to the shock of her parents. Jesus knew she needed some nutrition, so He asked the parents to give her something to eat. And then comes the rather mysterious word, what is known as “the messianic secret,” in which Jesus tells them not to tell anyone else about this miracle. There has been much speculation about this secret of Jesus. Perhaps He didn’t want to attract too much attention at this point in His ministry, and the crowds would hamper His growing ministry. Maybe He didn’t want to be known merely as a miracle worker but also as a preacher and teacher and bringer of salvation. He no doubt didn’t want people to follow Him just to watch Him do exciting magic tricks. Maybe He didn’t want to be known by the religious authorities quite yet and the undue publicity might hasten a confrontation between them that would lead to His Passion earlier than He wanted. Certainly He wanted to be known for more than His supernatural power, but also his desire to seek and save the lost, and even to suffer and sacrifice Himself to death. Whatever the reason for His messianic secret, we can trust that Jesus knows what He is doing, and that the timeline for Jesus is all clearly understood between Him and the Father. But did He really expect the ruler of the local synagogue to keep all this under his hat? I would imagine that Jairus announced his girl’s resurrection as soon as he left the house, and soon spread the word in the synagogue. And Jesus could hardly blame him for that.