The LORD who rules over all says, “Ask the priests about the law. If someone carries holy meat in a fold of his garment and that fold touches bread, a boiled dish, wine, olive oil, or any other food, will that item become holy?” The priests answered, “It will not.” Then Haggai asked, “If a person who is ritually unclean because of touching a dead body comes in contact with one of these items, will it become unclean?” The priests answered, “It will be unclean.” Haggai 2:11–13
The Prophet Haggai has this exchange with the priests. He was given the questions by God and the point was to confront the people of Haggai’s day with their sin before YHWH. The application of the teaching – So is this people. And so is this nation. (v14) – shows that the people of Israel had corrupted their lives by their sin.
The questions bring out a truth concerning The Law. “Holy” is not contagious, but “unclean” is contagious. In The Law of Moses, one must be aware of uncleanness. To touch uncleanness meant you were unclean. Yet, the opposite is not true. The Holiness of articles or, in this example, meat from sacrifices does not transfer. One had to be sanctified first before touching these things; you did not become holy because you participated. Uncleanness kept you from participating in the rites.
Centuries later, a man – born at the right time and born under The Law – walked down off a mountain. And a leper approached, and bowed low before him, saying, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him saying, “I am willing. Be clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Matthew 8:2-3) With many others, I note that Jesus touched the leper. People did not touch lepers. Under The Law, lepers were unclean.
Applying Haggai’s questions from The Law, uncleanness should have transferred from the leper to Jesus, but instead cleanness went from Jesus to the leper. Something, I wouldn’t say contradicted but, overruled The Law. Perhaps uncleanness did transfer to Jesus and this event foreshadows the imputation coming on the cross, where he was made sin so that we could be made the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21) but the account does not say that. What we see is Here was one who was so full of cleanness that the typical clean/unclean interaction was overwhelmed. He gave cleanness, which is himself, away.