So I looked at hands in Scripture. In particular the hands of Jesus. Perhaps in his earlier days the hands of Jesus were rough and calloused from hard labor. We tend to think of Jesus as a carpenter but from what I understand, the word can also be translated “stone-worker” (just google it if you have any doubt). When you go to Israel, you notice that there are stones everywhere and for every building. Carpentry work was for the rich people. We know for sure Jesus wasn’t from a rich family. They couldn’t even afford the obligatory lamb sacrifice for when Jesus was born. Instead they had to go with the two young pigeons or a pair of doves, a concession for poor people (Lev 12:8). So for me I’m quite sure it wasn’t trees Jesus was working with in his job. Rather he was blue collar factory worker that did the grinding work of stones. So his hands. Calloused and rough. And 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 be 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. Holy touch. Life-giving touch.
Lepers. You kept your distance. You made sure you drove 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 in place when Jesus met them. Keep your distance and let the people grieve, they said. Jesus aproached the funeral procession. Then the coffin. Then he reached out his hands and touched it. And the people recoiled. But the young man was brought to life. Luke 7:4
God’s Presence. For all people 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 the Father loved his son and they were to listen to him. A bright cloud enveloped them. They fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus. He came and touched them. He knelt down, touched his friends and told the to not be afraid. He touched them. Mt 16:7
Jesus touched eyes and they were healed (Mt 20:34). He actually put his fingers in someone’s ears to heal them (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 and even more ostracized. Somehow people didn’t 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. Hands that have not always been holy. It’s interesting that the holiness of the heart is connected to the hands (Ps 24:4).
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. The most painful part. Permanent. Bloody. And forever his.