Jesus bestowed honor through His personal interaction with people. He ministered and moved among the people, meeting the emotional and spiritual needs, as well as their physical needs. For Jesus, it was never “either or,” but always “both and.” His modus operandi was comprehensive—holistic—complete. He saw the beauty hidden within every person—the diamond in the rough—and responded appropriately.
The simple techniques of honor Jesus used are often overlooked, lost in the miracles themselves. Indeed the miracles are supernatural, filling us with wonder and excitement. They excite us, but by themselves they compose only a part of the whole story. We must not become so enamored with the miraculous that we make mundane or even unimportant the simple acts of honor that the Lord sowed into souls as He cultivated a culture of honor among the common people of His day.
Honor will not allow us to avoid any person—no matter how atrocious their situation, horrendous their condition, or incomprehensible their actions. Honor is given not necessarily because it is deserved but because it always elevates its recipient. That elevation is just another word for an unassuming act of dignity. Jesus was a master at the restoration of lost, stolen, or damaged dignity, and He achieved it through effortless acts that we can all imitate. There are many, but let me share three examples over the next couple of blogs.
The unbalanced religious practices of the first century rendered those who suffered from disease, despair, demonization, or death untouchable. The spiritually elite, whose faith was worn like an expensive Armani suit for all to see, refused to recognize, much less minister to those who were hurting all around them. Their pious orthodoxy resulted in nothing more than a blind narcissistic love of self which became the breeding ground for the egocentric brand of false faith we see masquerading as “Christian” today.
In Jesus day, leprosy stripped away every shred of a person’s dignity and honor as its rot pared the flesh away from its victim. These men and women were the unclean—the untouchables of society—forced to live apart both socially and religiously. Theirs was a helpless situation without hope.
When confronted by a man whose body was consumed by this awful disease Jesus reached out and touched him (Matt. 8:2). When the Lord’s finger tips rested on the ravaged flesh of that man’s body, honor was given and a lost dignity was restored. Deep in his soul hope sprang up. Yes, Jesus completed the act by healing his body, but the initial healing began with this simple yet revolutionary conduct. Jesus touched the untouchable and invited them (not just the leper, but the prostitute, the terminally ill, the demonized, and the much hated tax collectors) to touch Him. He honored them with something that was absent in their lives and withheld by their society—relationship.
Physical touch is a powerful sign of honor and a necessity for real relationship. There are countless individuals along your path today that hunger for a reassuring handshake, a gentle hug, or a pat on the back. They are starving for human contact rather than the hateful contempt they have become accustomed to. Study the miracles of Jesus—look at how often He touched the untouchable restoring what sin, or sickness, or the self-righteous had stolen. He gave honor through His touch.
Physical touch appropriately done at the right moment can give a desperate person hope, courage, strength, or whatever it is they need. Yes…we can do miracles, but not from long distance. To cultivate a culture of honor, we must be willing to touch our culture.