So his hands. Calloused and rough. Strong. Very strong.
At 30 his hands changed. Because at 30 the first thing we read about his hands is that they were washed. Washed in the waters of baptism. From there he would begin his life of ministry and I’m sure his hands began to heal from their callouses. Not totally but they would begin growing smooth again.
But now his hands took on a different role. Instead of receiving the smashing and scraping and bruising from hard work, his hands would now be the conduit of healing for the smashed and scraped and bruised bodies and hearts and lives of others. Because now Jesus began to touch people. Literally. Holy touch. Life-giving touch.
- Lepers. You kept your distance. You made sure you kept those people-turned-monsters away and made them shout “unclean” so you could keep your distance. You drove them away when they came near. Jesus went to them. He touched them. And the people recoiled in horror. Luke 5:13
- Dead people. They are cold. They are stiff. They stink. And they are unclean. A widow whose only hope was her son, had just lost him perhaps in a tragic accident. It was her death sentence as well as his. The funeral was taking place when Jesus met them. ‘Keep your distance and let the people grieve,’ they said. Jesus approached the funeral procession. Then the coffin. And then he reached out his hands and touched it. And the people recoiled. The young man was brought to life through the hands of Jesus. Luke 7:4
- God’s Presence. For all who seek it they forget that it is scary. Very scary. Peter, James and John saw their rabbi transfigured before them. Then Moses and Elijah appeared. Then the Lord spoke to them telling them that the Father loved his son and they were to listen to him. A bright cloud enveloped them all. They fell face down to the ground, terrified. But Jesus. He came and touched them. He knelt down, touched his friends and told them not to be afraid. He touched them. Mt 16:7
Jesus touched eyes and they were healed (Mt 20:34). He put his fingers in someone’s ears and the could hear (Mk 7:33). He even spit and touched a man’s tongue ((Mk 7:33). Something about touch made broken people whole, lonely people loved, and rejected people… even more ostracized. Somehow people didn’t like it when hurting people were helped.
Out of Jesus’ hands come life, healing, deliverance, acceptance and love. Bold hands that were not afraid of anything.
Then I look at my hands. Have my hands done the same? It’s interesting that the holiness of the heart is connected to the hands (Ps 24:4). My heart has not been holy.
But then there’s one other thing I remember about Jesus hands. I am there.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Is 49:6).
Engraved.. On the palms. A very painful part of the body to receive engraving. It was permanent. Bloody. And His hands tell the world I am forever His.