A MESSAGE FROM OUR CHAPLAIN | Hands and Feet
BY JEFF KRUITHOFF
Welcome back to our discussion of SOLITUDE, SCRIPTURE, SERVICE, SUPPORT AND SIGNIFICANT EVENTS as a means of accomplishing a “Quest for Excellence” in your spiritual walk. In the last Chaplain article, we started talking about service as a wonderful step to recognizing the impact these five “S’s” will have on your life. In this article I would like to delve into the concept of SERVICE and look at an analogy used many time describing the act of service.
Many pastors, and ministers will refer to the service of others as being the “hands and feet of Jesus”. I wanted to explore some thoughts and perhaps some misperceptions many of us may have about being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Based on the visual images of Jesus that we see represented in statutes, books and artist renderings, we may have an opinion that Jesus was a rather small framed person with a very mild disposition and not very imposing in his appearance. Although an image of Jesus on the cross did not appear for over 600 years after his death, many churches have a cross in their sanctuary that represents Jesus on the cross. In most cases this image we see is gaunt, thin, fragile, and very small framed. Although we cannot know for certain, there is actually significant evidence that Jesus was very physically imposing and representing his hands and feet is no shrinking task.
First we have several references in the Gospels that Jesus would go off to pray. Luke 5:16 says the “As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out of the way places for prayer.” Bible Scholars indicate that these morning walks of Jesus to go off and pray would many times be 2 to 4 hours. Imagine walking 2 hours away to pray and then 2 hours back to begin your day. In our discussion about SOLITUDE and SCRIPTURE I mentioned how difficult it is for me some times to walk away from my desk to a quiet part of my office for a daily devotion. These walks of Jesus were an incredible commitment of time and energy. Then imagine the kind of strength you would need to perform this type of walking on a regular basis when you also walked many miles each day preaching and teaching the people in Israel. Walking I might add that was not in the latest and greatest gel Nike’s. Clearly Jesus had stamina.
We also know that Jesus was a carpenter by trade. However, in those days, and in that part of the world, a carpenter worked mostly with stone, so it could be more accurately described that Jesus was what we call a stone mason today. Have you ever shaken hands with a person who works with stone every day? Far cry from the soft gentle hands we may be expecting from our perception of what Jesus would be like.
In the Gospels of both Matthew, Mark and Luke, we read varying accounts about a scene where Jesus got mad at the money changers in the Temple. History tells us these money changers were in cahoots with the High Priests to literally rip off the persons coming to the temple to make the animal sacrifice’s required at that time by the Law of Moses. They would force the worshipers to purchase doves, lambs, and other items from them (at high prices) declaring the animals they might have brought with them to be “unclean”. The story tells about how Jesus turned the tables over spilling the money all over the place. These merchant tables were not your average card tables we see today. They would be made of stone with large and heavy surfaces. Now imagine what kind of person would be unchallenged if he went into a large flea market and turned over the tables and ordered the merchants to disperse out of the building. Clearly Jesus was no shrinking violet.
Lastly we can read about the confronting of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives when he was arrested. This was not an unorganized mob or unruly band of disorganized folks who tried to arrest him. These were members of the Temple Guard and solders who comprised the best of the best of the Roman Guard. Think FBI Hostage Rescue Team, and you get the correct notion that these were the SWAT officers of that era. Closely analyze the scene in John 18 about what these warriors did when Jesus stood up and said “it is I who you seek”. The chapter goes on and tells us that they recoiled and fell back to the ground. How explain if you can why this would have happened if Jesus was a small framed, quiet and unassuming man. Clearly he was a physical presence that was strong and capable and could be physically intimidating.
Jesus lived on the cross for hours before he died. Descriptions of what the crucifixion process was like are difficult to read and not for the weak stomach or faint of heart. It was a deliberately excruciating process that required immense strength to merely breath while nailed to the cross. This was after hours of beatings and torture at the hands of a specialized group of solders trained for this purpose. Are you starting to get a different visual picture of what Jesus might have been like in terms of physical strength and size?.
When I first heard the service of others being referenced as being the “hands and feet” of Jesus, I simply took that statement as an analogy to doing things Jesus might do in the service of others. Similar to his simple act of washing the feet of his disciples as described in John 13. When I really started to contemplate this concept I had to reconcile my lifelong image of Jesus with how strong his hands and feet really were, and that serving others as his hands and feet was something to be honored. His hands were strong and capable of great physical strength. His feet were strong and carried him for miles and hours each and every day of his ministry.
So when you are challenged to be the hands and feet of Jesus in serving others remember the power and strength of this analogy. It is an opportunity to be revered, and should be very humbling.
Please take an opportunity to serve as a regular part of your spiritual walk. Until next time, God Bless and don’t hesitate to contact me.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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