The Carpenter's Hands
EL CAJON, Calif. (BP)--They must have been rough, the hands of the village carpenter. In an age without gloves or skin creams, He shoved stones into place, absorbed splinters, hewed timber, and gripped lumber with bare fingers. In a day without sunscreen lotions, He labored under the blistering Middle Eastern sun. In an era without modern machinery, He raised houses, erected buildings, fashioned furniture, and repaired children's toys. His hands must have developed a thick layer of protective hide that was obvious to those who shook His hand or felt His touch.
But, oh, what gentle hands. Never squeezing too hard, touching too roughly, or overzealously slapping another's back.
And what powerful hands! The trace of a single finger could restore sight to the blind, bring life to the dead, heal a leper's skin, or lift a suffering soul from life's dust.
And what wounded hands! They bore the scars that no lotion could heal and no oil could help. They were the hands of Jesus.
The Gospels use the words "hands," "fingers," and "touch" nearly 200 times, and the words often refer to Jesus: "Jesus put out His hand and touched him," "So He touched her hand," "He went in and took her by the hand," "Then He touched their eyes," "Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand," "Jesus came and touched them," "Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray."
Our hands should convey love. In His parable of the prodigal son, Jesus described the reaction of the father to the homecoming of his wayward boy: "Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him" (Luke 15:20). Many parents truly love their children, but don't always convey this love in a way that makes their kids feel secure. Hugs, hair-tussling, pats on the back, even horseplay and rough-housing -- all are ways we can communicate affection to our youngsters.
Jesus wasn't afraid to touch others. Leprous skin didn't repulse Him, nor did He hesitate to handle the filthy feet of His disciples in the Upper Room. Now He wants to use our hands to send the same message of love, humility and acceptance.
Psalm 104:28 says that when God opens His hand, we're filled with goodness; and Psalm 145:16 echoes the thought: "You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing."
Are your hands open? Generous toward a needy person whom God brings across your path? Toward His work that needs support? Toward those depending on your provision?
We must use our hands to help others. At the beginning of Christ's ministry, we read in Luke 4:40: "When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them."
How can our hands become a blessing to others? Perhaps wiping the brow of a fevered child? Cooking a meal for a lonely single? Typing a note to one needing encouragement? Cutting flowers for a neighbor? Wiping the noses of infants in the church nursery? Handing out bulletins with a smile and a handshake on Sunday? Knocking on the door of someone needing the Lord? Your hands can do His work every day!
I can visualize our Lord's rough-hewn hands resting in a posture of prayer, palms together, fingers pointed upward as the Carpenter of Nazareth took time to beseech God's blessings on the work of His hands.
Oh, to be like Jesus. To have the same touch, the same grip on life, the same openhanded generosity, the same beautiful, beckoning hands as our Lord. Look down at your hands right now. May God take them and use them for His glory! Let's pray with the hymnist:
"Let my hands perform His bidding,
"Let my feet run in His ways;
"Let my eyes see Jesus only,
"Let my lips speak forth His praise."
(From "All for Jesus" by Mary D. James.)