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.
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.