The Hands of the Risen Christ

Bible Book: John  20 : 20
Subject: Resurrection; Easter
Introduction

With the hand, a criminal may pull the trigger of a gun, sending a bullet into the body of another human being. With the hand, a skilled surgeon may adroitly remove the bullet and save the man who was shot. The hand may be an object of blessing or cursing. Among all the hands that that ever graced human bodies, none where so much a blessing as those of Jesus. He used His hands to touch the blind so that they might see. He had the disciples permit little children come to Him so that he might touch them and bless them. But, never were the hands of Jesus more beautiful than when he revealed them to Thomas, with the scars from the nails clearly visible. He did this to answer the doubt in the mind of Thomas, but He also did this to bring about an important transformation in His disciples.

One week after the resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples for a second time. One disciple, Thomas, had not been present when Jesus appeared to all of his disciples the week before. On this occasion, one week after the resurrection, Thomas was present when Jesus appeared. Jesus held out His hands and invited Thomas to touch the scars that had been caused by the Roman nails. There is a powerful message in the outstretched, scarred hands of our Lord. I want you to see The Hands of the Risen Christ and the proclamation they declare.

I. The Personal Assurance of Christ

A. The Wounds He Displayed

The wounds He displayed left no doubt as to who He was. The disciples had seen the nails pierce His hands. They had grimaced when the spear was thrust into His side. Now they saw the wounds, but the wounded One was alive. This could be no other. This was Christ.

The scars revealed the Love that Jesus had for them. How wonderful that Jesus was willing to present those scars to Thomas. Since Thomas was a doubter, Jesus had the right to simply leave him out of the proceedings, but the same love that caused Jesus to endure the Cross was present in Him to reach out to Thomas with forgiveness and assurance. What a wonderful Savior we have. His hands revealed His patience, mercy, love and forgiveness!

B. The Words He Declared

He spoke peace to them. Jesus desired that they know a peace beyond human understanding. He did not come to chide them, or revile them for their doubts, fears, or for running away when He needed them. He did not bring up their sleeping in the garden when He was in agony before going to the cross. No, He spoke peace to them.

“I come to the garden alone

While the dew is still on the roses,

And the voice I hear

Falling on my ear

The Son of God discloses,

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,

And He tells me I am His own.

And the joy we share as we tarry there

None other has ever known!” (C. Austin Miles, 1912)

II. The Permanent Animation of Christ

A. Life Presented

He showed Himself to them, in full animation. He was alive, vibrant and filled with heavenly energy! In fact, Jesus revealed something that, up until this time, was unknown to the disciples - life beyond the grave! Jesus revealed to them a permanent animation.

B. Life Promised

A bank in Binghamton, New York, had some flowers sent to a competitor who had recently moved into a new building. There was a mixup at the flower shop, and the card sent with the arrangement read, "With our deepest sympathy." The florist, who was greatly embarrassed, apologized. But he was even more embarrassed when he realized that the card intended for the bank was attached to a floral arrangement sent to a funeral home in honor of a deceased person. That card read, "Congratulations on your new location!"

How wonderful to know that Jesus offers to all who trust Him in salvation a permanent animation. The death of a child of God deserves a card that reads, "Congratulations on your new location!" Jesus held out His nail-scarred hands as absolute evidence that the grave is not the home of those who have placed their faith in Him. As He lives, we live. Our salvation is not anchored on earth; our salvation is anchor in heaven. The only way for us to lose our salvation is for Christ to fail. His out-stretched hands, scarred with the sign of life overcoming death, lets us know that we have a life that is forever!

III. The Powerful Authority of Christ

Tom Boyd tells about a woman who was a member of a church he pastored in Tennessee. She was flamboyant and eccentric but Boyd was impressed with her intense commitment to the faith. "She did not have a pietistic bone in her body, but her devotion was nonetheless clear and articulate. One evening at a dinner party in her home, [she and Boyd] were animatedly discussing some theological idea. In the midst of the give and take her teenage daughter, probably frustrated with all of the high-blown discussion of religion, asked, 'Mother, why do you talk about religion all the time? Why are you so religious?' This query brought a loud hush to the dining table. Her mother paused dramatically, pushed her chair back from the table, stood and responded, 'Every morning before you are awake, I rise and walk into the living room. I lift my arms and ask, "Who's in charge here?" The answer always comes back: "Not you!" That's why I am religious. Because I am not in charge!' "Religious life begins with the realization that we are not in charge, and from there we can proceed to align ourselves to the One who is in charge." [Lectionary Homiletics, Jun 1993. Page 33.]

The risen Christ, with scarred outstretched hands, declares, "I am in charge here!" He is Lord! He is the Master of the sea. He is the sustain-er of all things! He has a name above every name! His power is evidenced through the nail-scarred hands, which declare Him to be the Lord over death, hell and the grave.

A. Authority for Conquest

Christ appeared to be the victim on Friday as He died before a howling mob. Saturday was a dark, foreboding day for His disciples. His enemies thought they were rid of the troublemaker. But on Sunday morning He rose with healing in His wings.

“Up from the grave He arose

Wwith a mighty triumph o'er His foes,

He arose a victor from the dark domain

And He lives forever with His saints to reign,

He Arose! He Arose! Hallelujah, Christ Arose!” (Robert Lowry)

B. Authority for Commissioning

In the Battle of Salamanca, the Duke of Wellington commanded one of his generals to advance with his troops and occupy a gap he had observed in the enemy lines. The officer, on receiving these orders, rode up to Wellington and said, "My lord, I will do as you say, but first let me feel the grasp of your conquering right hand!" After receiving the grip of his commander hand, he rode off to the deadly conflict.

After Thomas saw the nail-scarred hands of Jesus, He fell down and declared, "My Lord and my God." He was changed! His doubts were gone. The hands of Jesus, the risen Christ, send us forth without fear or wavering into the work He has called us to do.

C. Authority for Completion

Jesus was showing His disciples that He would complete that which He had begun. With the songwriter we can say,

“For I know Whom I have believed

And am persuaded that He is able,

To keep that which I’ve committed

Unto Him until that day!” (Daniel W. Wittle, 1883)

The risen Christ, was revealing without doubt that He will complete every work He started and keep every promise He made. He built His Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

IV. The Passionate Adoration of Christ

A. See His Pity for the Doubtful - Thomas - Faith

Jesus could have told Thomas that his lack of faith now excluded him from salvation. He could have ripped into him with fiery words of rebuke and condemnation. But, no! Jesus lovingly stirs faith in Thomas the Doubter.

B. See His Sympathy for the Fearful -Disciples - Hope

I read somewhere that there is a grave in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania of a celebrated soldier. The stone bears these words: "Abraham Lincoln's substitute." Amidst the anguish of the conflict of America's tragic Civil War, the President had chosen to honor this man as his representative - making him a symbol of the fact that those who perished in the battle were dying that others might live!

Jesus died that we might live - that we might overcome fear, especially the fear of death. The disciples had feared terrible when Jesus was arrested. Peter even denied Jesus three times because of that fear. But, after the resurrection, the fear was gone. When Jesus rose from the grave, He did not rebuke the disciples for their fear. He came to give them hope.

Hugo Chavez, the former leader of Venezuela, died recently. His last words were, "Please, don't let me die!" If our faith is in Christ, we will not actually die. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

C. See His Mercy for the Sinful - Peter - Love

In 1915 in Stockholm, Sweden, in a prison hospital a man lay dying who had spent most of his life in crime. At his bedside a chaplain kept vigil all through the night. While wiping the forehead of the sufferer and moistening his lips, he whispered repeatedly in his ear, "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin." At last a wonderful look of peace came upon the face of the dying man, for he comprehended what was being said and trusted the Savior. Then he closed his eyes and went into the presence of the One who had saved him. When the Christian worker left the hospital and walked out into the chill of the early morning, he heard a newsboy shouting, "Extra! Extra!" He bought a paper and opened it in the cafe where he went for breakfast. The headlines announced that the King of Sweden had just died. The account told how the queen had sat at the bedside of her husband, comforting him from the Scriptures and reading the precious promises of Divine forgiveness through Christ. The same sacrifice on Calvary that brought pardon to a prisoner had given peace to a king.

Don't you see, everyone needs Christ. The king and the pauper need Christ. The old and the young need Him. The rich and the poor need Him. We need Him for He is the only one who overcame death, and death is something we all must face. The problem with death is that it ends all human opportunity. If we fail to trust Jesus, our sins go with us into eternity and they keep us forever separated from God. For those who have trusted Christ, out sins have been removed through His nail-scarred hands - through His death at the Cross.

Peter denied Jesus, as I mentioned a few moments ago. When Jesus died, Peter thought all hope of ever being forgiven were gone. None can tell what miseries Peter must have endured as he went out and wept the night of his denials of knowing Christ. Yet, the risen Christ appeared to Peter to reveal to him that his sin was forgiven. A living Lord provides a continual forgiveness of sin - past, present and future. What a Savior we have!

Conclusion

Somewhere I read the story of some mountain climbers who fell to their deaths while climbing a mountain. An investigation took place to find out why all of them died. The rope that connected them should have saved them. When one fell, the rope attached to the others was designed to catch all of the men. The investigation revealed that the rope, which had a red line running through it as proof that it was the superior rope needed for such events, was a fake. It was a cheap, inferior quality. The rope did not hold because it was not the real thing.

Dear friend, be sure when it comes to dying that you have the real thing. To have a cheap substitute is to perish! Have you trusted the Savior who rose from the dead? If not, today is the day for you to place your hand in the nail-scarred hand of the risen Savior.

Some of us have failed our Lord, yet He stands ready to forgive and to bless us. Just as He met with the disciples who had denied Him, fled when He needed them, slept when He asked them to pray for Him and doubted when they should have believed in Him, He stands ready to accept us as well.