My wife and I are lame when it comes to plants. They do not live long and prosperous lives when they are in our care. That’s why the perfect house plant for us is a Christmas tree – it’s already expected to turn brown in a couple of weeks.
Aside from trees, Christmas is a time to think of hands – more specifically, those of the infant Jesus.
When a baby is born, parents usually examine the child to make sure the manufacturer included all the parts. They ooh and ah over every marvelous, intricate detail. The hands are especially astounding – so perfectly engineered.
Mary must have caressed Jesus’ sweet smelling, tender soft, delicate, little hands. And surely, He latched onto her finger as she watched and pondered.
She saw innocent hands – hands that had not touched things they shouldn’t or bonked a brother in anger. With all babies this innocence is eventually lost – all except for Jesus. He maintained it throughout His life. (Hebrews 7:26)
She saw weak little hands. His fingers were powerless and uncoordinated. They could not grab a stick or throw a rock.
How appropriate, because Scripture tells us that Jesus chose to lay aside His divine prerogatives as God, including His almighty power in order to take on the flesh of a human being. (Hebrews 5:1) That finger, wrapped around Mary’s told the story of a mighty God who became weak for our sakes.
Mary kept her eyes on those hands through the years. She watched them grow capable and calloused from the wear and tear of the carpentry shop. The dirt under his nails said to her, that her boy was very much a man.
She marveled when He put His hands to a different use. Jesus reached for the coffin of a dead child and the boy lived. (Luke 7:14-15) He touched an untouchable and the leper was cleansed. (Luke 5:12-13) Parents brought their children to Jesus that he might touch them (Mark 10:13) and in the garden Jesus picked up the severed ear of an adversary and, “He touched the man’s ear and healed him.” – Luke 22:51
His hands became the conduit between the goodness of heaven and the suffering on earth. They told the story of a compassionate healer.
But the day came, when the political hacks had hacked away at the message and character of Jesus. He became a wanted man.
They bound His hands at Gethsemane then tied them to a post as they raked the flesh off His back with a scourge.
At Golgotha, He willingly reached those hands to the ends of the roughhewn crossbeam. The cold, rusty, hard steel passed through them causing untold agony.
Mary watched and wept as she remembered the soft, sweet innocent hands of her baby.
But it was all part of God’s awfully awesome plan to redeem us. The prophet said, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6) KJV
He suffered and died for us – and it was His hands that told the story. They still do.
Jesus rose again, and His body was transformed and made new in every way – except for His hands. He offered them to skeptical Thomas saying, “Put your finger here, and examine my hands…Do not continue in your unbelief but believe.” (John 20:27)
Those scars will forever mar the hands of the Savior so that the story of His death and resurrection will be told throughout eternity.
I suppose that there is a story in every pair of hands.
Some are lifted in defiance as if to say “Jesus, I want no part of You.” I don’t want your salvation if it means submitting to your Lordship. Leave me alone – and let me be.”
Others are lifted in faith as if to say “Jesus – You are what I want and what I need.” My faith is in You and my life is bound to yours. You bought me with Your blood, and I will serve You with my life.
What message do your hands tell?
A PRAYER: Lord, help me and my world to see the nail wounds in the hands of the infant Jesus.
All Bible references from the NET Bible ® unless otherwise noted.