More on Those Hands & Feet

When I say that a missional life is one in which we are to be “the hands and feet of Jesus” in the world, like I did in my last post, I assume everyone knows what I mean.

Feet go places, and so we should go. Across the street to our elderly neighbor’s home, maybe, or across the hall to a mourning coworker’s office, or across town to the park that has a chronic litter problem.

Hands do things, and so we should do things. Extend our hands to touch those who have been deemed unclean, maybe, or get our hands dirty and make some mud to heal blindness.

I’m pretty sure that’s right, but I think it’s more than that, too.

A few weeks ago, our pastor offered a sermon from John 20, when Jesus appears to the disciples after his resurrection. I’ve been thinking about verses 19 and 20 since then:

Jesus came and stood among them and said, 
‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, 
he showed them his hands and his side.

I always understood the part about Jesus showing his hands to his disciples as the way he’s proving who he is. And that’s part of it, obviously, since the next verse tells us they rejoiced that it was him. But the more I think about this, the more I’m pretty sure we’ve got more going on than just Jesus saying, “Hey, check out my driver’s license photo.” I think we’ve got some additional insight into what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world.

For one thing, we know the disciples are scared at the beginning of this passage, scared enough to lock the doors. And here Jesus comes on in anyway, and he tells them to have peace. Now, maybe he’s telling them to have peace because what he means is “I know you’re about to freak out since I just walked through that locked door over there, but be cool fellas. It’s me.” And so he shows them his hands to prove it.

But what if this is really what Jesus is saying: “I know you are scared, my friends. But look at my hands. Look at them. Remember the crucifixion? Remember how I died? That is all the powers of this world can do to you. Nothing more. And guess what? Death doesn’t mean anything in this world. That’s what these scars prove, my friends: you’ve got no reason to be scared. The worst that can happen is that you will die. So have peace. Have peace.”

That’s pretty awesome, because it’s a message we all need to hear, especially in these days of good Christian people storing away food and water and weapons for the potentially dangerous days ahead. Good Christian people who want nothing more than to protect their families. I understand that instinct to want to protect, to lock our doors, to keep the baddies away.

I do.

Still, if I ever get to the point of considering stockpiling ammo in my basement, I hope I will always think of Jesus’ hands instead.

Have peace. This world can do no more than kill you.

That is the message of Jesus’ hands in this world.

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6 comments on “More on Those Hands & Feet

  1. Ashley says:

    A good thing to remember indeed. Sometimes the thought of death is scary to me yet since I want to be here to see my children grow up and grow old with Drew but I don’t think that means that I need to live in fear of what is to come. It’s good to remember that Jesus is holding us in his scarred hands.

    • elizabeth says:

      Hi, friend. I know what you mean. I think there’s a difference between being afraid of dying and not wanting to miss out on the joys of this life. I don’t want to die. I want to lose my mind alongside my dear husband. 🙂 But I think I wander into dangerous territory when I start worrying about every possible thing that could go wrong. (I tend to be a worrier by nature.) Then it becomes more about me and control than about dying.

  2. Terri says:

    I have just finished reading “The Insanity of God” about the persecuted church around the world. I think it is easy to forget in this country that being the hands and feet of Jesus could (should?) mean sharing His suffering as well. Sometimes it is a stretch for me to just spend a little time doing something for someone outside my family. Hardly suffering for Jesus!

    • elizabeth says:

      Terri, I’m so glad you raised this point. I didn’t want to go quite this far in the blog post itself, but I really think when Jesus shows his hands, he might be saying “See? This is what will happen. They will kill you, but that is not the end of the story. So have peace.” The New Testament elsewhere certainly assumes that the Christian life will be a life of suffering, and we do tend to forget that as American Christians.

  3. Jimmy says:

    I am reading the same book Terri just finished and was thinking along similar lines. I mentioned to one of my “Second Amendment as Gospel” friends the other day that I was pretty sure Jesus would not be stocking up on guns and ammo. Indeed, his teaching and example are much more challenging and much harder to follow. I am pretty sure he never said that we should grab all we can get then install a security system and shoot anyone who tries to take it from us. Not that the desire to be in control is not an over-arching theme in my Christian journey :). Peace!

    • elizabeth says:

      I agree with you that the teachings of Jesus are much more difficult than taking our futures into our own hands. Which is basically what we’re doing when we try to prepare for every possible circumstance. I’ve even wondered recently whether my love a good deal (which leads to stockpiling things like toilet paper) could be interpreted as a lack of trust in God to provide my ‘daily’ bread.

      I think we can safely believe that Jesus wouldn’t be shooting anyone. 🙂

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