Watch the Hands
By Gerald Klingbeil
Hands are avid and capable communicators.
Hands “talk” often more than words can ever say. Hands can turn into tight fists or touch lightly as a father cuddles his baby daughter. Hands can say “stop—no more” or “come on, you can do it.”
The gospels highlight Jesus’ hands repeatedly. As a carpenter they represented His most valued tools. They cut and planed and held the chisel and the hammer. But they didn’t just handle wood—they touched people. Jesus touched lepers (Matt. 8:3) and those struggling with disease (Matt. 8:15; 9:29; 20:34; Mark 7:33). He touched His disciples when they were afraid (Matt. 17:7) and His enemies as they tried to ensnare Him (Luke 22:51)—He even touched death (Luke 7:14)—something no well-respected Jew would have ever done.
Hands communicate nonverbally. Hands were also an integral part of the resurrection morn. The disciples had gathered in Jerusalem—they longed for a safe and quiet place where they could make sense of the unthinkable. They were discouraged; they felt perturbed. They had heard strange rumors—but were they true? Jesus appears in the midst of their committee meeting in which they were discussing the evidence of the resurrection—and shows them first His hands and feet (Luke 24:36-43). They see the wounds; they touch the Master, tentatively at first, then more confidently. Hope turns to assurance—He lives.
Have you ever noticed that Jesus’ hands were always open, always ready to give, to touch, to encourage, and to share? Somehow I cannot see Jesus holding on to something tightly in His fist. He gives, and gives—and gives more.
His opponent in the Great Controversy prefers a different gesture. Satan’s favorite posture seems to be the tightly clenched fist, shaking it against the authority of God, demanding equal opportunities, and pulling those who listen to the siren’s beguiling melody into complete destruction: the nail-printed hands versus the tightly clenched fist; selfless service versus a disproportionally sized ego; boundless grace versus selfish wants.
Recognition on resurrection morning is linked to hands.
As Adventists (and particularly those of us living in North America) we have tended to ignore Easter. Association with bunnies, colorful eggs, candy, and heathenism has resulted in a disregard for resurrection morning. Orthodox Christians may greet each other with “The Lord is risen,” expecting the answer “He is risen indeed!”—but Adventists? In many parts of the world the Easter weekend is one of the most important evangelistic opportunities for Adventists. Adventist churches preach the resurrected and returning Christ over a long weekend. Neighbors and friends, attuned by their culture to this important moment, are ready and willing to join their Adventist friends.
What would happen if we would spend as a community an entire weekend (or even week) thinking about and admiring the nail printed hands of Jesus? What would happen if we were confronted anew by the paradox and the power of the resurrection? My point is simple: in order to truly understand the message of resurrection morning we must come close to Jesus and look at His hands. We must run into His arms and feel the touch of His scarred hands embracing our hungry beings. Revival and reformation begins with the hands of Jesus.
The hands of Jesus speak about righteousness by faith and grace—we need a Savior willing to bear our sins. The hands of Jesus speak about unity and community—we are one in Him, notwithstanding our different backgrounds, opinions, or even expectations. The hands of Jesus speak about the future—we are waiting to share with Him a meal, glorious, everlasting, and marked by gratefulness. And, finally, the hands of Jesus speak about giving and service—we are called to bless others as we have experienced God’s immense blessing of salvation.
Right now, think about the resurrected Lord, and allow His hands to touch you today.
Gerald Klingbeil is Associate Editor Adventist Review/Adventist World magazines. This article was originally featured in the Adventist Review and is being reprinted with permission.