Sermons

Summary: We are called to be the Holy Hands of Christ.

Mark 1:40-42

“Holy Hands”

By: Kenneth Emerson Sauer,

Pastor of Parkview United Methodist, Newport News, VA

Jesus’ hands were holy hands. Hebrews chapter 4 tells us that Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.”

But the religious people of Jesus’ day certainly didn’t think that Jesus’ hands were holy.

He stepped over too many of their time-honored boundaries which marked what was holy and what was not holy.

In touching the leper Jesus disregarded a taboo.

The leper was ceremonially unclean…

…But: “Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.”

For Jesus, there is no taboo against the love of God.

He touched the unclean…and through doing this He validated the fact that His hands were indeed holy!

We can’t think very long about the hands of Christ without marveling over all the people He touched.

He took children in His arms, He laid hands on them and blessed them.

When He healed, He usually touched the person…

…He grasped the hand of a panicking Peter, who was sinking into the Sea of Galilee…

…and He gently cleansed the feet of His disciples.

Beyond a doubt, one of the reasons Jesus was eventually put to death was because He touched all the wrong people.

He could have healed that man with leprosy at a distance, but instead, Jesus disregarded all the warnings and overcame this man’s isolation and touched him!

This was an expression of Jesus’ spontaneous sympathy and compassion….

…and it’s an action that we are confronted with again and again in the gospels.

Nothing less than a personal touch with the person in need will satisfy Jesus.

We have one or two cases on record that show Christ’s power to heal at a distance, but in the great majority of cases it was a personal touch.

Do we have that personal touch?

Jesus’ harshest critics complained that “he eats with sinners.”

And among Jesus’ friends were despised tax collectors, a Samaritan woman, the demon-possessed---all the people that everyone else had (seemingly) a good reason to avoid!

Even harlots were embraced by Jesus!

Holiness is not the formation of an elite club of self-righteous do-gooders.

Jesus’ kind of holiness is all about compassion, and a new, inclusive fellowship.

To use John Wesley’s words, “holiness is both internal, purity of heart within…

…and external, the manifestation of that holiness in acts of love toward others in need.

Social agencies are indispensable

in our intricate, intermeshed, social world.

But the personal touch of life is indispensable in any world and every world.

There is no adequate substitution for outstretched hands and outstretched lives.

No committee or organization can replace them!

The Word of love, that was in Jesus, must become flesh and dwell among us.

And we, as Christians, are called to be the Holy Hands of Christ!

A wealthy western woman visited Mother Teresa in Calcutta and offered to write a check to support the work of the Sisters of Charity.

But Mother Teresa declined: “I won’t take your money.”

The woman insisted, reminding Mother Teresa that she had great resources to donate.

But Mother Teresa still said, “No money.”

Exasperated, the woman stammered, “Well, what can I do?”

Mother Teresa said, “Come and see.”

She led the woman by the hand down into a dreadful shelter…

…found a desperately dirty, hungry child, and asked the woman to take care of him.

The woman took a cloth and a water basin and bathed the child.

Then she spooned cereal into the child’s mouth.

The woman reported later that her life was changed!

She became part of something that money could not buy or fix or replace.

She took care of this child on a human, personal and tangible level.

Have we become part of something that money cannot buy, fix or replace?

Sometimes our hands must become dirty in order for them to represent the Holy hands of Christ.

In his book Caring, Feeling, Touching, by Sidney B. Simon, a teacher at the University of Massachusetts, speaks of a “skin hunger” that is felt by all of us.

It is a deep-seated need for the touch, the feel, the concrete reality of human contact.

He points out that every human being comes into this world needing to be touched…

…and that this is a need that persists until death.

I know someone who eats out for breakfast on most mornings.

One morning he was sitting at the counter in a restaurant, feeling unloved and lonely, when a woman came in and sat down next to him.

They started talking, and the woman told him that he looked like somebody who really needed a hug.

She said that everybody needs at least 10 hugs a day.

He told her that he hadn’t had a hug for a long time, whereupon she slipped from her seat and opened her arms wide.

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