Touch me

Jesus presented himself to the disciples. To Thomas he even said touch me – trust your senses and feel my wounds. 

There is a tangibility about how the evangelists talk about the resurrection. It is weird and wonderful. Jesus can apparently walk through walls, and like Bilbo Baggins, appear and disappear at will. And yet, unlike Bilbo Jesus is not confined only to the written page. There is more to Him than that. He is a real presence, not only a mythical being: he is that but much more – a genuine physical being, with his hands and feet and head and side marked with wounds, where ‘sorrow and love flow mingled down.’

And yet, what if the community he founded? Where is the tangible evidence to be found that we have been with Jesus? That if we were taken before the court there would be evidence, solid and tangible evidence, that we are indeed the Body of Christ? That the burden of proof would be upon those that charged us, not upon us, for there would be another man, leaping and praising God for the wonderful things He has done? 

During his Galilean ministry Jesus touched and was touched. There was a deep physicality to the way he worked which included breaking cultural taboos. His sense of self was connected with this tangibility: he did not allow the haemorrhaging woman’s touch to become an unclean encounter but one that brought wholeness back to a damaged body. He touched dead people and brought life back again. He healed the unclean. It was not the touch that transmitted uncleanliness but that of wholeness as he participated in people’s broken lives, restoring the outcast to within the community and reconciling the shamed with God. 

He also spoke words of healing and forgiveness and acceptance. Touch and spoken word went together in his ministry. There was no either/ or in Jesus’ methodology. There was no Enlightenment division between body and soul, casting its European shadow over the world and through the evangelical church. For Jesus there was and is an entirety of spoken word and healing encounter: the physical and spiritual were not identical but had a greater level of continuity than Western theology has allowed. There is a wholesomeness in the way Jesus treated people, and we see that continuum carried on in the book of Acts. 

The views expressed in this blog post are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the GC network.

Photo by Fonsi Fernández on Unsplash

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John Baxter-Brown

John Baxter-Brown

Chief Executive Officer at Global Connections
John Baxter-Brown, or JBB as he is usually known, has previously worked as consultant to the World Council of Churches (on evangelism), World Vision International (on Church Partnerships) and Compassion International (on children and youth in mission). In addition to his role with Global Connections, he serves as Senior Advisor in Evangelism for the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance and occasionally lectures in mission and evangelism at universities and colleges. Throughout his ministry, JBB has worked in evangelism, youth and children’s work, theological education and training, and ecumenism, at local church through to global levels. He has edited and authored numerous books, chapters, journals and articles. He is married with two teenage daughters and two dogs and lives in Wiltshire.
John Baxter-Brown

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