Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
This Lent for our midweek services, our theme will be the Body of Christ. Our focus will not be on the body of Christ which is the Church, nor on the body of Christ which we receive in the Lord’s Supper. These are both the body of Christ, but our focus this Lent will be on Jesus’ hands, His feet, His head, His face, and His heart. Today, we start with hearing about the hands of Jesus.
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus served His creation with His hands. His touch alone was enough to heal. He cared for the crowds who followed Him, feeding them, healing them with His hands. In a synagogue, He healed the withered hand of a man on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:9-14). He laid His hands on children that were brought to Him and blessed them (Mk 10:13-16). His hands were never idle; He continually used them to serve His creation.
But this service to His creation did not begin during His earthly ministry. The Son of God has served His creation – since creation. The eternal Son, through whom the world was created also holds all things together (Col. 1:16-17).
Our Old Testament reading spoke of how God took His people by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. What a loving depiction – leading His people out of slavery by the hand. Gentle yet firm. Holding to prevent falling or a desire to return back into slavery. Pulling along so that escape from slavery is possible; pulling forward stronger than slavery pulls back in order to redeem His people.
The Old Testament continually speaks of God saving with His outstretched arm. God rescued Noah and His family through the flood. He saved Abraham from His idolatrous culture and brought him into the promised land. His hand kept Moses safe in the basket so that he would not be murdered by Pharaoh’s soldiers. God’s hand parted the Red Sea to rescue His people from slavery in Egypt. His hand knocked down the walls of Jericho, giving victory to His people. His hand rescued Daniel from the lion’s den and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace. God’s almighty hand kept David safe from King Saul who sought his life. What more can be said? For time would fail to tell of all the times God’s hand has delivered His people.
Jesus says in John 13(:3) that all things are given into His hands by God the Father. That means all things are under His power and control. It might not have looked like it. It might not have looked like things were under Jesus’ control when He stood in the house of the high priest and He was blindfolded and struck by the hands of soldiers who mocked Him (Luke 22:63-65).
Jesus never used His hands to strike out in violence at anyone. He only served and healed with His hands. He only cared and showed love with His hands. Yet He was struck by the hands of those who mocked Him. It didn’t look like all things had been given into His hands. He didn’t appear to be in control.
But Jesus was in control. He says Himself that He could have called more than twelve legions of angels to His aid, but how then would Scripture be fulfilled (Matt. 26:53-54)? He was in control because it was His will to die. Jesus said that no one takes His life from Him, but that He lays it down of His own accord (John 10:18). All things are given into Jesus’ hands even as He is struck by the hands of others. All things are given into His hands, even as His hands are stretched out and nailed to the cross.
All things are given into Jesus’ hands, and He chose to die for us. Out of love for us, His fallen creation, He chose to die. The price of our sins had to be paid, so Jesus chose to pay it in our place, thus rescuing us from eternal slavery in hell. The debt of our sins had to be paid, so Jesus paid it in our stead.
And now He calls out to us to repent of our sins. He spreads out His hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke Him continuously (Is. 65:2-3). He is still patient with us. He still waits for us to turn away from sin. He takes us by the hand to lead us out of the slavery of sin.
What a loving depiction – leading His people out of slavery by the hand. Gentle yet firm. Holding to prevent falling or a desire to go back into the slavery of sin. Pulling along so that escape from slavery is possible; pulling forward stronger than sin pulls back in order to redeem His people.
He holds out His crucified hands to us, calling us to come to Him. All day long He holds out His hands with forgiveness. All day long He holds out His hands with His gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation. All day long He holds us by the hand, pulling us to Himself. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.