“The Messiah also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, [as it is written in Isaiah 53:7]: “Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;” and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” 1 Peter 2:21-23
I grew up hearing lots of sermons and Bible lessons about “being Jesus’ Hands and Feet” in this world. Lots of examples of how to serve our families . . . neighbors . . . world, using our energy in Godly, practical ways. The world can glimpse and taste the heart of Jesus through our lives.
But recently I have been taking a closer look at the stories of Jesus as He faced His own looming physical experiences of His human hands and feet in going to the cross.
It’s one thing to consider His hands and feet as He moved about on this earth: Walking through the land of Israel . . . stony dirt roads that he traveled, visiting fishing villages around the Galilee, hostile towns in Samaria, or the annual trips from Nazareth to Jerusalem for festivals with his friends and family. Stories of desert travel, navigating through hilly terrain along rocky, dusty paths, Jesus passed through villages, both friendly and not. He moved through the Land of Israel teaching about Life…Love…and His Father’s love and glory. Seashores, mountains, desert, and unpaved, stony roads are the setting for so many stories of Jesus’ Words and miracles as well.
Those stories inspire us to step out of our familiar routines and make time to interact with people in practical, caring ways. Like Jesus did.
But I had never given much attention to the “hands and feet” accounts of what Jesus experienced in the hours leading up to His death on the cross. At least, not in the implications of how I may be Called upon to use my own hands and feet in ways that would physically hurt for the sake of others. That’s a whole different level of “being His Hands and Feet” to my world.
Being inconvenienced to serve others is one thing. But to go to the point of real physical discomfort or pain for the sake of others is not what is common in our practical experiences of following Jesus. What He endured through His crucifixion, both before and during the Cross, is far beyond what we can imagine. What His Hands and Feet went through was excruciating. And beyond that, there was the lashing of His back, the huge thorns in His head, the psychological torment, and more. The emotional torment of experiencing God’s “abandonment” throughout the whole physical torture would have been incredibly brutal in itself. Extreme public humiliation was woven throughout His trauma.
It was all on our behalf.
The next time you sing a worship song about “being His Hands and Feet,” don’t take it lightly. For the sake of our lost world, it may cost far more than simply “giving” and “going.”
Are we willing to bear that?