One summer between college terms, I took a job working for the City of Indianapolis Dept. of Transportation. The first day I reported for work, I walked in to meet my new boss, a crusty war-horse in a wooden chair with those squeaky rolling casters on the legs. He said, “Come here, boy, and let me see your hands.”
Then he grabbed my hands and started rubbing the inside of my fingers and palms. I knew what he was looking for. He wanted to see if there was any sign or evidence that this greenhorn, college educated student was accustomed to hard work. Were there calluses on my hands? Did my hands show the marks of wear and tear? My hands would provide the evidence of who I was and if I would be of any real value in the work that needed to be done.
I was reminded of this when I thought about what happened on the evening of that first Easter day. The disciples were assembled together in a closed room—shocked at what had happened to their Teacher two days earlier, angry but also fearful of what might happen to them, and at the same time, very confused about the reports they were hearing.
Jesus had appeared to Simon Peter, and then to two disciples as they were walking to Emmaus. What was going on? As they were discussing these things, Jesus himself stood among them. They were startled and terrified. They thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Jesus understood they needed proof that he was real. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do you doubt what you are seeing? Look at my hands and my feet; it’s me! Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And then he asked for some food, a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it in their presence. Ghosts don’t eat real food. He proved who He was through his physical being.
Jesus’s hands and his feet provided the evidence that He was who He said He was. His palms and His feet showed the marks of the nails He had to bear given to him from a world that was opposed to the Prince of Peace. His hands and feet showed the evidence of the work they had done–bearing pain for the sake of the world.
So do you have any marks on you that prove that you follow Christ? Show me your hands and feet. Bringing peace into the lives of others often will leave scars and callouses on one’s hands, and feet, and body – signs of physical wear to the body – these are the proof of a person who is following the way of the Prince of Peace.
Scars and signs of abuse are also the evidence that Christ is alive today. Nonresistance to violence will put holes in your flesh, literally. Yet it is the way of Christ.
Most Christians are not accustomed to thinking of themselves as Christ in the flesh. But Martin Luther said we are little Christs. In the New Testament, St. Paul told the church in Corinth, “Don’t you know that Christ is within you?” He is risen in and through you.
To be a Christian is to know that Christ dwells in you and lives through you again. He continues His work of healing and peace through your hands and your feet. If He lives in you, that makes you the risen Christ who stands rooms around your community, trying to show the world that He is truly alive today.
Wearing a gold cross or putting a fish emblem on your car or quoting the Bible prove your claim to be a Christian but they don’t always prove that Christ is within you and that you follow the teachings and ways of the Prince of Peace. There are lots of people who have those symbols on them but who have no marks on their hands or feet that show they have fed the hungry, or cared for the homeless, or visited the sick or prisoners, or that they’ve laid down their time and life to help and show love to their neighbor.
So what shows up when you turn over your hands and take off your shoes? Do your hands and feet show the marks of feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and bearing the pain of others? Is Christ alive in you? Is He continuing His work through you?
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