Summary: A look at the hands of Jesus as they relate to the crucifixion. Thomas doubted it was Jesus until he could see the hands of Jesus. Jesus says blesse are those who believe without seeing.
God and Human Hands
Intro: It is three days after Jesus has been killed. You have watched from a fearful distance as the man you have been following has been arrested, tried, beaten and crucified. Now, your friends are telling you that while you were gone, Jesus your friend, your teacher has risen from the dead.
How would you feel? What would you say?
Many of us would say something like, “Yea right! I’ll believe it when I see it!”
That would be the exact same reaction as Jesus’ disciple, Thomas.
“Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in the hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
John 20:24-25 (NIV)
I. Reason to Doubt
Thomas had reason to doubt. He had seen Jesus. No one could survive what he endured. He had been brutally beaten and nailed to a cross. How could he be alive?
In fact, Jesus had said he was going away. Thomas is the one who questioned how they would find him.
“‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’
Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’
Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’” John 14:1-7
How is it possible that Jesus is back?
Thomas only understands what he has seen.
Jesus has been beaten.
“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.”
John 19:1 (NIV)
** Passion Picture
Flogging was a brutal experience. You were repeatedly beaten with whips of leather with pieces of bone or metal in them. It literally tore away the flesh, often exposing the vertebrae to the open air.
Researchers tell us that six out of every ten people died from flogging.
Jesus has been crucified.
“Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the skull. Here they crucified him…” John 19:17-18(NIV)
** Passion Picture
When you were crucified, your hands were nailed to the cross beam and your feet to the post.
Nails used for crucifixion were 5-8 inches long. They were rusty iron. They were placed in what we would call the wrist.
The tendons and nerves in the wrist would be severed causing severe pain and cramping. If you were to somehow survive crucifixion, you would more than likely receive blood poisoning and tetanus.
The hands would have been completely useless. There is no way Jesus could have unwrapped his grave clothes or rolled away the stone himself.
A friend of mine, a pastor and physical therapist specializing in the hands had this to say: “Jesus’ hands would have been useless for months. Even modern day rehabilitation efforts would result in only marginal recovery of the use of the hands.”
Dr. Bill Walthall
The feet would be placed at an angle and the nails driven through the heal.
At the end of his life, a spear was put in his side to show he had died.
“The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.” John 19:32-33 (NIV)
Blood filled the pericardium, the water filled sack around his heart. When the soldier pierced the sack, blood and water came out. This tells us how Jesus died.
Jesus died of a broken heart.
More accurately, Jesus’ heart exploded.
Do you see now why Thomas had doubts? Wouldn’t you? But now, Thomas is told that Jesus has risen. That must have been more than his shocked system could take.
Now, let’s pick up the story a week later.
“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’