Let us pray: Dear Savior, what a comfort it is to know that our lives are in Your hands! For Your hands are kind, loving, gentle, and healing. Your hands are those of the master builder Who sculpts and shapes and molds us into glorious vessels of holy service. May we never fight against Your hands of love, and may we always allow our hands to be controlled by Your hands. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE HEALER OF BODY AND SOUL!
TEXT: Mark 2: 1-12
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
I’ve always liked this story. As a little kid in Sunday School it was mesmerizing and dramatic. Think of what it must have been like to be there in Capernaum? You had Jesus and the disciples crowded into a house. You had a huge crowd of people, shoulder to shoulder surrounding it, waiting to catch a glimpse, a word, a nod. You had supporters of Christ, the intrigued, and even some nay-sayers in attendance. And then when these five believers come—the four faithful friends carrying the stretcher of the paralyzed man they cared about appeared, no one helped. No one made room for them. No one reached out to assist them. And so those wonderful friends hoist their buddy up to the roof, take off the clay shingles, make a hole, and then lower him into Jesus’ reach. Would that we all had friends like that! Who would do that for you?
I came across an interesting story as I prepared this sermon. During WWII some American soldiers laid siege to a small German town. They fought all day long and just before nightfall they captured it. As they slowly wandered through the town they came across a statue of Christ that had been blown off its pedestal by artillery fire. The statue lay broken and battered in the street. Over the next few days as they secured the town, some of those soldiers started to put it back together. Upon completing their job, they discovered that the hands were missing. Nonetheless, they placed it back on its pedestal anyway. The next morning a crudely lettered cardboard sign was hanging across the handless arms. It said, “I have no hands but yours.” If you take nothing else home today from this sermon, take home this same truth:
I HAVE NO HANDS BUT YOURS
Those words serve as a double entendre for us as Christians. That is, they hold a dual meaning. One the one hand, faithful Christians really are Christ’s hands on this earth. We see that played out in our lesson.
After those four friends sweated and toiled at making a hole in the roof and lowering the paralytic man to Christ, we’re told this: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” Right here we’re told that these men had faith. They believed, just as you and I do, that Jesus was the Son of God. They believed, as we do, that Christ possessed all power in heaven and on earth. Did they expect a healing? Probably, since they went to all this work. After all, they had heard and perhaps even seen Christ do similar miracles. Did they expect Jesus to first heal this man’s soul by absolving him of all his sins? I doubt it. But that is exactly what Jesus does. Christ knows that anguish of soul is far more destructive and far more hurtful than anguish of body. One lasts a lifetime, while the other lasts an eternity.—Something that has been totally forgotten and discounted in our day when the physical side to life is everything. So, Jesus does the most vital task first. He heals his soul. He forgives him his sins. And then, after being challenged in this by the nay-sayers Jesus goes on to heal his body, too. All this to show His divine power and majesty. All this to show His love.
No doubt the crowd was stunned and delighted. “This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’” We know the paralyzed man was overjoyed.—Who wouldn’t be? But what about the friends? I can see them tearing up and weeping for joy, too. Can’t you? Yes, their hands were Christ’s hands in this instance. Their hands showed tenderness and compassion. They put themselves out for a friend in need, and blessings abounded as a result. Do you do the same? If not, why not? For in Christ’s physical absence from earth, does not the truth: “I have no hands but yours” apply to each of you?
Of course, if those four friends were here this morning and we could quiz them on their motives and actions, they would put the emphasis on Christ and not on themselves. They would tell us that the love of Christ compelled them to act. In fact, I really believe they would say both to and of Christ: “I have no hands but Yours, dear Savior.”
We prayed at the start of this sermon, “our lives are in Your hands.” Only a faith-filled believer can truly utter those words. And they are truly words of confidence! For what better hands can we be in than Christ’s? It is Jesus Who shapes and molds us from mere vessels of clay into mighty saints. It is Jesus Who sculpts us into living memorials to His love and compassion. It is Jesus Who guides, guards, and protects us from the bullets and bombs of the Evil One. Jesus’ hands felt the cruel nails of the cross so that we wouldn’t have to. Jesus’ hands were pierced in place of our souls. And Jesus’ hands announced His victory over all sin and eternal death when He later showed the disciples His hands after His resurrection. And now those same hands which labored for you, caress, hold, and comfort you. Those same hands reach out for you.
I have no hands but Yours. What a fitting motto for all Christians! Amen