Friday, September 22, 2017

Powerful hands

Detail from "Jesus and the Little Child" by James Tissot

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 19:1-15

TO CHEW ON: "Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray … And He laid His hands on them and departed from there." Matthew 19:13,15

I wonder what became of the little children Jesus laid His hands on that day. Was it a memorable day for them? Did their lives change after that?

The laying on of hands is powerful body language throughout the Bible, used to say a variety of things:

"I bless"
  • That's what the patriarchs did to their children and grandchildren - Genesis 48:14-15.
  • That's what the parents wanted Jesus to do to their children in our reading (expressed explicitly in Mark 10:16: "And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them." emphasis added).

"This animal is my substitute"

  • Laying hands on the animal that was to be sacrificed was part of the Old Testament offering ritual - Leviticus 4:4, 15, 29, 33. It was the way the sinner said, "I transfer my sins to this animal. It dies in my stead."

"Receive your healing"
  • In the New Testament, Jesus laid hands on people when He healed them - Mark 6:5; 7:32,33; 8:23. He commissioned His followers to do the same - Mark 16:18.
  • Ananias laid his hands on Saul/Paul and he recovered his sight - Acts 9:17.
  • Later Paul prayed for healing for the father of Publius with the same gesture - Acts 28:8.

"Receive the fullness"

  • On one of his missionary journeys, when Paul met a group of disciples at Ephesus who did not know about the Holy Spirit, he laid hands on them and "… the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied - Acts 19:6. In other words, it opened the floodgates for all God had for them.

"I ordain you"

Laying on hands in ordination happened in both the Old and New Testaments.
  • Moses was to lay hands on the Levites as part of their initiation to priestly work - Numbers 8:10.
  • He also laid his hands on Joshua when he passed on his mantle of leadership - Deuteronomy 34:9.
  • The New Testament has instances where church leaders laid hands on individuals prior to them being sent out to do ministry - Acts 6:6.
  • For Timothy, that experience confirmed a special gift that equipped him - 1 Timothy 4:14.

We can use our warm, personal, unique hands for so many things—both bad and good. Let's use them to do less hitting, dismissing, and cursing; to do more blessing, equipping, commissioning, and healing.

PRAYER: Dear God, I present my hands to You today as part of myself—a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. (Romans 12:1). Amen.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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