Reading Time: 4 mins

The Hands of the King

Reading Time: 4 mins

When Jesus appeared again to his disciples on that first Easter evening and again a week later with Thomas and the Emmaus disciples, what did Jesus show them? His hands.

Our hands can tell us a lot about each other. Are we married, engaged, or single? Do our jobs include manual labor or typing at a keyboard? What type of hobbies do we enjoy or instruments do we play? Every speck of dirt under the fingernails, callous, scar, wrinkle, and line has a story to tell. 

If hands tell a story, what story do the hands of Jesus tell? 

As I think about the answer to that question, words from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings come to mind. In the realm of Gondor, within the city walls of Minas Tirith, there is a place of rest, aid, and healing. Tolkien takes his readers to this place in The Return of the King when, after the siege of Gondor, the ride of the Rohirrim, and the Battle of Pelennor Fields, Faramir of Gondor, Eowyn the noblemaid of Rohan, and Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck the hobbit find themselves in the Houses of Healing. Faramir had been wounded in battle and suffered a fever. Eowyn suffered from her heroic defeat of the Witch-king. And Merry, too, was icy to the touch when he was brought into the city gates after stabbing the Nazgul alongside Eowyn. There they lay. Each suffering in their own way, each in need of healing. 

But who could heal such mortal wounds? Who could cure such deadly pestilence?

Tolkien's characters long for the return of the king, who has been promised. Wrapped up in their wait is a question. How would the king be known? One of the elder women who served in the Houses of Healing knows the answer. 

Ioreth, the eldest of the women who served in that house, looking on the fair face of Farmir, wept, for all the people loved him. And she said: 'Alas! If he should die. Would that there were kings in Gondor, as there were once upon a time, they say! For it is said in old lore: The hands of the king are the hands of a healer. And so the rightful king could ever be known ( J.R.R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1994, p. 842.)

The hands of the king are the hands of a healer. The same can be said of Jesus' hands, which tell the story of our salvation. When you look at the hands of Jesus, you know the kind of King you have because you know what this king has done. And in his hands, you are brought eternal healing.  

These are the hands of our incarnate God, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, and hand of our hands.

These are the hands of Jesus, the God-man who wiggled his newborn fingers, grabbed his mother's hair, and clinched his infant fists.

These are the hands that matured as he grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). Hands covered in the sawdust of Joseph's workshop. Hands calloused as he learned the carpenter's trade. Hands lifted up in prayer to the Father as he was tempted by Satan to use his hands for selfish, self-serving purposes.

These are the hands that touched the sick, the dying, and the outcast and brought mercy, healing, and restoration. Hands that broke bread. Hands that touched dead corpses and restored them to life.

These are the hands that washed his disciples' grungy, gritty feet. Hands that healed a man's ear in Gethsemane. Hands lifted up in prayer again to the Father. "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done" (Luke 22:42).

These are the hands that bore the wood of the cross. Hands that were fastened by Roman spikes to a cruel tree. Hands that writhed in pain. Hands that went limp when he breathed his last. Hands with wounds by which we are healed. Hands with victory scars.

"Glad songs of salvation
are in the tents of the righteous:
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly,
the right hand of the Lord exalts,
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!" (Ps. 118:15-16)

When Jesus appeared again to his disciples on that first Easter evening and again a week later with Thomas and the Emmaus disciples, what did Jesus show them? His hands. 

"Peace be with you. Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet (Luke 24:39-40).

For his disciples and for you, every scar, wrinkle, and line on Jesus' hands has a story to tell. And that story is this: The hands of our incarnate, crucified, risen, and ascended King are the hands of a healer, and so shall the rightful King be known. 

In this holy season of Easter, and in his holy Church, Jesus' hands still have a story to tell us. When our hands are soiled with sin, when they tremble and fail us from living in this fallen world, remember in whose hands you rest. And look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 

When you feel as if your hands can't grip or cling to God's promises, remember that we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his pierced, crucified, risen, glorified hands. 

When your hands and whole body feel tired, worn out, and riddled with scars and disease - even when your hands are dead and buried - remember, even there, out of the grave, the hand of your crucified and risen King will reach out and deal valiantly again for you. Remember that the hands of Jesus the King are the hands of a healer, and by this, our rightful king shall be known.

Into your hands, O Lord, I commit my spirit.

"Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isa. 41:10).