“He (Jesus) entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered.” — Mark 3:1
Years ago I read Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf’s autobiography, “It Doesn’t Take A Hero.” In it he tells of visiting solders in the hospital and seeing many of them were missing limbs; hands, arms, legs. Most of the soldiers’ wounds were the result of land mines. Over the years I have seen pictures of people born without hands or feet. One woman born without hands or feet could diaper her baby and feed it!
Have you ever thought of all the things that you do every day with your hands? They are like nothing else in all of God’s creation. Our hands have 19 different bones. It takes about 40 muscles from the shoulder to the hand to move the fingers. And we often find ourselves using our hands as a lever, a wrench, a punch or even a hammer. With our hands we can weave gorgeous tapestries, paint beautiful pictures, play unlimited instruments or build skyscrapers.
With his hands man has harnessed the wind, transformed coal and water into light and power, and built machines to take him into space. We have seen them lifted up in prayer, folded in sleep, raised in solemn oath and joined at the marriage altar by two people who have become one in God’s sight.
There are some interesting accounts in Scripture concerning hands. In Mark 3, Jesus encounters a man with a withered hand. It probably hindered him in earning a livelihood. A withered hand could symbolize uselessness. Some with sound hands never put them to good use. Daily in the media we read or hear of people that use their hands to do evil things. They have hands that hurt people and even kill.
In Exodus 4:2, God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?” Moses had a simple shepherd’s staff in his hand. God said, “Throw it on the ground.” When Moses threw it on the ground it become a snake. Then God said, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail.” Did you ever try to pick up a snake by its tail?
What is in your hand? What talent do you possess that you may be holding back in using? The ability to create something beautiful? The opportunity to serve in a way that benefits your community?
The means of helping others through your generosity? What is in your hand? God is simply asking you to use what is in your hands. As Solomon said, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Billy Graham said, “God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with.”
But no matter what is in your hands, are they clean? David wrote in Psalm 24, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart....” Have you ever noticed how clean a jeweler’s hands are? They handle precious items and a dirty hand would distract from the valuable gems they handle.
Luke 24:40 tells us of another set of hands: “And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.” Scarred hands. Nail scarred hands. Hands that had been nailed to a cruel cross. Proof of the Lord’s identity. And when Thomas saw them he said, “My Lord and my God.”
How are your hands? Are they withered and useless? Or are they busy in serving? Are they clean? And have they come into contact with the nail scarred hands of Jesus?
Emmett Murphy is a retired Christian minister.