By Doug Redford
On Labor Day in 2011, the Cincinnati Enquirer printed a piece called “Hands at Labor.” Pictured on the front page of the Local section were the hands of five individuals, along with a description of the work they did. The group was quite a mix: there was a neonatal intensive care nurse with a tiny infant’s hand in hers; a mechanic whose hands were dirty and greasy from working on cars; a tattoo artist whose hands were (as you might expect) covered in tattoos; a baker’s assistant whose hands were white with flour; and a World War II veteran, who lost his left hand and most of the fingers on his right hand trying to disarm a Nazi roadside bomb. After the war, the veteran had operated his own flooring business for 28 years.
The Gospels tell us much about the hands of Jesus. We often read of Jesus taking someone by the hand when he healed that person or placing his hands on children to bless them. Jesus’ hands were used as instruments of love and compassion.
Other people, however, did not treat Jesus so well with their hands. Jesus was seized in the Garden of Gethsemane by angry, hostile hands, and he was slapped and abused by other hands. Then Jesus’ hands, the hands that had healed and helped so many, were pierced by nails and fastened to a cross where he died. But those hands were not finished. After he arose, Jesus showed his hands to a doubting Thomas and told him, “Put your finger here; see my hands” (John 20:27). And the end of Luke’s Gospel says, “When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51).
When we take Communion, we hold in our hands the reminders of the price Jesus paid to save us from sin. After you take these emblems, you may want to extend or fold your hands in a prayer of thanks to our Savior, and then take a few moments to pray with the hymn writer, “Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love.”
Doug Redford has served in the preaching ministry, as an editor of adult Sunday school curriculum, and as a Bible college professor. Currently he is the minister at Highview Christian Church in Cincinnati.