April 19, 2015 Text: Luke 24:36-49
Dear Friends in Christ,
Rene Spitz has compiled some amazing evidence pertaining to the absence of touch. In a South American orphanage, Spitz observed and recorded what happened to 97 children who were deprived of emotional and physical contact with others. Because of a lack of funds, there was not enough staff to adequately care for these children, ages three months to three years old. Nurses changed diapers and fed and bathed the children. But there was little time to hold, touch, and talk to them as a parent would. After three months many of them showed signs of abnormality. Besides a loss of appetite and being unable to sleep well, many of the children lay with a vacant expression in their eyes. After five months, serious deterioration set in. They lay whimpering, with troubled and twisted faces. Often, when a doctor or nurse would pick up an infant, it would scream in terror. Twenty-seven, almost one-third, of the children died the first year, but not from lack of food or health care. They died of a lack of touch and emotional nurture. Because of this, seven more died the second year. Only 21 of the 97 survived, most suffering from serious psychological damage.
As hard as that scenario is for us to imagine, what if we had to live without the touch and love of Jesus Christ in our lives? What if we had to live without His presence because He remained in the tomb? Today, He gives us something that we all need . . .
“THE SAVIOR’S TOUCH”
Jesus wanted to make certain that his disciples knew He was alive. “Touch me, and see,” he said. “Have you anything here to eat?” He was alive! The touching news of Jesus’ resurrection changes all of our tomorrows. It changes the way we live and the way we die, the way we worship and the way we work.
The Savior’s touch helps with our doubts and fears. The disciples had doubts and fears, just like many of the disciples in this sanctuary today. Satan must enjoy filling our lives with fear. I recently learned my fear of dogs has a name: synaphobia. What are some other names for fears? Peladophobia is the fear of baldness and bald people. Levophobia, the fear of objects on the left side of the body. Dextrophobia, the fear of objects on the right side of the body. Thalassophobia, fear of being seated. And my favorite, phobophobia, the fear of being afraid.
Oh whatever our fear, we pretend to be bold, but Jesus sees right through us. He knows our doubts and fears. Even after we hear it in church, Bible Class, Sunday School, and devotions, we still don’t fully believe and trust for a variety of reasons. Jesus says, “Touch me and see. I’ll show you. My resurrection, my living body is for real.”
We are touched by God’s Word and empowered by the living Christ. One year in the Tournament of Roses parade, a beautiful float suddenly sputtered and quit. It was out of gas. The whole parade was held up until someone could get a can of gas. The ironic thing was this float represented the Standard Oil Company. Imagine its vast oil resources and its truck was out of gas. Often, as Christians we neglect our spiritual maintenance and though we are “clothed with power from on high” we find ourselves out of gas.
This happened to the disciples after Jesus resurrection. After all that had happened they were out of gas. But through the Savior’s touch He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He did it so they could fully understand His death and resurrection, repentance, and forgiveness of sins.
We too find ourselves at times running on empty. Life has a way of doing that. Our prayer is that the Lord would open our minds to understand the Scripture. God calls us to dig into His Word so that it can take root in us. God calls us to repent of our sins and joyfully receive and share His gracious forgiveness.
Jesus touched His disciples’ lives with the gifts of His peace, His presence, His power, and a commissioning to share what they had seen and heard with the world. He touches our lives with those same gifts, and we are changed. He touches us through His Word, Holy Communion, our baptismal gifts, and through the body of believers as we go into the world together.
Today we have been personally touched by the grace and knowledge of our living Savior, Jesus Christ. The reality of Jesus’ resurrection changes lives…forever!