Have you ever spent much time looking at your hand? Sure, I know it sounds strange but indulge me. Take a moment right now. Study it. Feel it. Note how the tendons on the back move when you work your fingers. Count the joints. It is an incredible work of divine engineering.
Our hands are versatile. We use them almost without ceasing throughout the day. They carry unique identity markers in our fingerprints. The gestures we make with them signal our feelings, our reactions, and sometimes even our rage. With them, we demonstrate our love. And with them, we can also hurt and destroy. Your hands are an incredible gift to you.
But what if I told you they were more than a gift for your use? What if I told you they could remind you of the gospel as well? After that sentence, you might think I’ve been wasting cash on palm readings. But I’m not talking palms here. I’m more interested in fingers.
A normal human hand has five fingers (okay technically, five digits). If you hold them up straight and press them all together, then the central finger typically stands tallest. I want you to consider how you can use this divinely engineered masterpiece as a tool to think about Christ and share the good news.
There are five important movements in the gospel–the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. You see where I’m going, don’t you? These five movements can easily correspond to the five fingers on your hand.
Digit # 1: Birth
God the Son took on flesh. This baby in a manger is a mystery at the turning point of the story of redemption. God, who is infinite and eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, holy, pure, and perfect, stooped down to take on the humble form of a servant. He was born in squalor to poor parents. For a bit, he was a refuge in Egypt. He grew up in the backwater of Israel and learned the humble trade of a carpenter. And yet his birth was the coming of God himself. This is what we celebrate each year at Christmas, the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah. This is finger number one.
Digit # 2: Life
The second finger is the life of Jesus. When we think about his life, we typically think about his three years of ministry leading up to the crucifixion. But there were many years before that when Jesus lived in a typical, small Israelite town. He grew up, worked, learned, worshiped in the synagogue, attended the festivals in Jerusalem and, at least once, got in trouble with his parents. Sure, we know very little about his life before his baptism. But what we do know is that it was a life of perfect obedience to God’s law. He was tempted in every way, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). He succeeded where Adam and Israel failed. He fulfilled the demands of the law. Even on Monday mornings, he was perfectly righteous. This is true of him eternally. And it was true of him as he walked the earth some two thousand years ago.
Digit # 3: Death
Jesus’s death corresponds to the third finger–the longest one. Christ died a substitutionary death. His condemnation at the hands of the Jewish and Roman rulers was unjust (as even Pilate conceded). He was innocent of any transgression, yet he died the most shameful and painful death the Romans could inflict–stretched out to be suffocated, humiliated, and nailed on a cross of wood. By this death, Jesus bore our sins so that he could cover us with his righteousness and bring us to God (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus swapped places with us. He stooped and picked up our heavy burden of sin and bore it himself on the tree.
As you know, this central finger is the longest. The substitutionary death of Christ is the heart of the gospel. By it, he made the payment necessary for sinners to be redeemed and to be seen as righteous before a holy God. His blood was the redemption money canceling our outstanding debt of sin. And when we receive his righteousness by faith, God the righteous Judge no longer sees us as sinners covered in filthy rags, but as sons and daughters wearing white robes of sinless purity, washed by the sacrifice of his Son’s blood.
Digit # 4: Resurrection
After being buried in the tomb, he rose again on the third day. Christ defeated death. It could not hold him. Death had no power over him. Jesus poured out his life, yet because he was the innocent, perfect, eternal Son of God, death was not able to keep him down. He rose triumphantly from the grave and proved that he had defeated death by appearing in the flesh over many days to his disciples. Because he defeated death, those who trust in Christ need not fear death anymore. It has no sting for Christians because they share in the victory of the risen Lord. The resurrection is the fourth finger.
Digit # 5: Ascension
Finally, the fifth finger is the ascension. After meeting with his disciples and commanding them to take the gospel message throughout the world, Jesus ascended on the clouds and sat down at the right hand of Father. He had accomplished the work he had come to do. And he reigns now from that throne. Having ascended, he also sent the Holy Spirit to indwell believers and empower the church. And the church now awaits his return when he will come back on clouds with the victorious blast of the trumpet.
The Hand as a Gospel Tool
The next time you give someone a high-five or a first bump, or as you stretch to shake their hand, consider the life-giving message of the gospel. In fact, ask the Spirit to embolden you at that moment to open your hand and share it. No napkin, tract or tool is even necessary. You don’t even need a preacher. Just an open hand of welcome that invites them into the warm embrace of the Father’s eternal love applied to us by the Son’s death and his glorious resurrection.
- With whom have you shared the gospel recently? How did it go?
- What are the barriers that prevent you from sharing the gospel with others?
- Think about one person with whom you’d like to share the gospel. Pray for that person and ask the Lord if he might be pleased to give you an opportunity to extend to them the “hand” of reconciliation.