His Nail Pierced Hands
“And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.” (Luke 24:50-53)
Once every year, on the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament, the high priest would lay aside his glorious apparel and put on a common white robe and linen trousers, identifying himself with the common people. He would take the lamb appointed for sacrifice and slay it. He would go alone into the holy of holies with the blood of the lamb. There he would sprinkle the sacrificial blood upon the mercy-seat, which covered the ark of the covenant.
That atoning sacrifice God required once every year for propitiation, so that the sins of the nation might be covered. Then, the high priest would put on his gorgeous garments again, the robes of fine linen, scarlet, and blue, with the sweet-sounding bells and pomegranates. He would put on his glittering breastplate and place the miter on his head.
Then he would come out in that gorgeous apparel as God’s high priest, lift up his hands, and bless the people of God in words like these — “The Lord bless thee and keep thee: the Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
That elaborate ceremony was ordained of God to typify the work of Christ, that One who was to come who would be both the true Sacrifice and the true High Priest over the household of faith. We see that type beautifully fulfilled in Luke 24:50-53.
Here we see the Lord Jesus Christ lifting up his hands as our glorious High Priest and blessing his people. Our Savior had for a while laid aside his robe of glory and splendor, and veiled himself in human flesh. He offered himself, body, soul, and spirit, as a propitiatory, sin-atoning sacrifice to God. — “By his own blood he entered once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12). And now our great High Priest, just as he was ascending into heaven, lifted up his hands to bless his people. — “And he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.” Let us now, as we conclude our study of Luke’s Gospel, focus our minds and our hearts on his nail pierced hands.
Having spoiled the grave, our Lord proved his power over things that are under the earth. Tarrying for forty days among men after his resurrection, he claimed his power over the earth itself. Then he ascended up through the air to show that the dominion of the prince of the power of the air was broken. Finally, the Son of God entered again into the heaven of heavens, claiming his throne of total and universal sovereignty as our blessed God-man Mediator. From the lowest depths of the grave to the highest realms of glory, Jesus Christ reigns supreme over the vast domains, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Our Lord Jesus might have gone straight to heaven on the morning of his resurrection; but he had reasons for tarrying on the earth for forty days. I want to briefly point out some of the reasons why our Lord remained here for forty days after his resurrection. In the days of Noah the waters of God’s judgment overflowed the earth for forty days. Our Savior was in the wilderness for forty days, where he was tempted of the devil. And now the victorious Christ tarries for forty days of triumph in the very place where he had fought the battle and won the victory. But why did he tarry here for those forty days?
1. Those forty days were sufficient to prove to all mankind that he had truly risen from the dead. He came forth from the grave, not as some sort of phantom or ghost, but as a real man of flesh and bones.
2. During this time, our Lord removed every lingering doubt from the minds of his disciples. He said, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (v. 39).
3. Again, he tarried here those forty days, because those instructions he had given to his disciples before his death needed a few finishing touches. He had yet many things to tell them, which they could not have understood before his death and resurrection.
4. But, primarily, our Lord Jesus tarried here for forty days so that he might issue the commission his church must follow so long as the world stands.
He said to Peter, “Feed my sheep…Feed my lambs.” He commanded them all saying, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. He that believeth not shall be damned.” He would not make his departure from the world until his final orders had been given. The mighty Captain of our salvation marshaled his troops, set them in their ranks, and gave them their marching orders. He commanded them to march forward into battle, and onward to victory, with this word of promise — “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
Then, just as he was leaving his troops upon the earth, and going up to assume his throne, “He lifted up his hands and blessed them.” Can you picture the scene? There is the Son of God with his apostles and disciples gathered around him. They have come out of Jerusalem to the Mt. Olivet. Behind them was Jerusalem, the city left desolate and awaiting destruction, and the place called Calvary, where forty-three days earlier he had suffered, bled, and died as our Substitute. Just ahead were Bethany, the little village where he had performed the mighty miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, and the home into which he had been so often received as a welcome Guest, the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. And just below them was the Garden of Gethsemane, where for our sakes he had wrestled with death and hell, sweating blood.
We are not told all that took place that day; but it seems reasonable to me to suppose that our Lord must have sung a hymn with his beloved disciples. I imagine that there were some final, personal words to each of the disciples. He must have assured Peter, comforted James, inspired John, and encouraged Thomas. At any rate, he gave them his farewell message. Then, “He lifted up his hands, and blessed them.”
While he was blessing them, he broke the law of gravity and began to rise. The disciples must have been astonished. He began to rise up to heaven, slowly, majestically, until he was almost out of sight. Then, the astonished disciples saw a cloud between them and their Savior, and the Lord’s body was gone. — “A cloud received him out of their sight.” Who knows what happened beyond that cloud? It was too glorious for human eyes to see, or for human ears to hear. But I think the angels of God must have begun to sing, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in!” One cried, “Who is the King of glory?” Another replied, “The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle…The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.” And now the ascended Christ sits as a King and a Priest upon his throne.
Lifted to Bless
As he ascended, “He lifted up his hands and blessed them.” The hands of our Lord were lifted up to bless. Every blessing of divine grace flows to us freely from the nail pierced hands of the Son of God. Standing there upon the Mount of Olives, anticipating that glory which lay immediately before him, our Lord Jesus wanted to bless his disciples. He had opened his ministry with a proclamation of grace; and now his last act upon the earth is a benediction of grace.
These uplifted hands are the hands of our Lord and Redeemer. He said to his troubled, fearful disciples, “Behold my hands.” When he had “showed them his hands,” their hearts were comforted and filled with joy. These are the hands of our sovereign Creator, our eternal Surety, and our blessed Savior. These hands blessed the little children, stilled the tempest, saved perishing Peter, and raised the widow’s son. These hands assured doubting Thomas and comforted the troubled disciples. Are you in need? Are you in trouble? Is your heart anxious, burdened, and pressed down with care? Your Savior says, “Behold my hands!’ His hands are lifted up to bless.
This blessing was not at all unusual. The hands of our Lord were always blessing hands. Throughout his earthly life, blessings flowed from them continually. During his earthly ministry, thousands received multiplied blessings from his hands. The four gospels are full of examples of blessings, which fell from the hands of Christ. He went about doing good. His hands scattered blessings like a farmer scatters his seed.
When our Lord lifted up his hands to bless his disciples, as he was leaving them, he was just doing what he had always done. The richest blessings we ever get from the hands of Christ are not unusual things at all, but just a continuation of his old ways. If this day the Son of God lifts up his hands to bless you, it will only be another link in the golden chain of his mercy. He has blessed us. He is blessing us. And he will continue to bless us. He is still the same.
But now Christ blessed his disciples in a somewhat different manner. He blessed them with a new authority. Before he had prayed for blessings upon them. Now he pronounces the blessing! His work of sacrifice was done. The atonement was complete. And the blessings had been purchased. Before our Savior had looked up to heaven and asked for the blessings. Now, he looks down, as it were, from heaven and bestows the blessing, as one whose right and power it is to bless.
No one except the Lord Jesus Christ has the right, authority, and power to bless us. All who pretend to be priests (or priestly preachers) with power to bless are deceivers of men’s souls. As our Savior lifts up his hands, he seems to be saying, “Look here, my children, all blessings are in these hands.” These are the hands of our Daysman, the God-man Mediator.
Another thing that strikes me is the fact that the blessing of our Lord’s hands was a full and complete blessing. Did you notice what our Savior said as he blessed them? Luke does not tell us that he said a word. He seems to have simply looked the blessing upon them. I can almost picture him. He stretched his arms upward and opened his hands wide, and waved them over the people. In that gesture he seems to be saying, “Look, my ransomed flock, all that I have is for you. All is yours. All that you need now, and all that you ever shall need is in these hands.”
Once more, the blessing of our Lord’s hands was a special, peculiar blessing. — “He lifted up his hands and blessed them.” This was a special, distinguishing blessing. It was not for the world, but for his own people. The teaching of “common grace” is a common delusion. The blessings of God’s grace and goodness are special, family blessings reserved for the Lord’s chosen. Yes, our God and Savior sends the sunshine and the rain upon the reprobate, and they receive the temporal benefit of such; but even the sunshine and the rain descend upon the earth for God’s elect. The blessings of God are for his own (Romans 8:28). Those things that men refer to as the blessings of “common grace” will only add to the condemnation of the wicked. God’s elect are blessed in all things (Deuteronomy 28:1-14); but the wicked and unbelieving are cursed in all things (Deuteronomy 28:15-46). Let all men know that in all things, “the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel” (Exodus 11:7). In all things he is particularly and distinguishingly gracious to his own elect. Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. He laid down his life for his sheep. Here he blessed his redeemed ones. He could not and would not withhold one blessing from those for whom he had poured out his life’s blood. As our High Priest, he had been discriminating in his prayer; and he is discriminating in his blessing (John 17:9, 20).
Are we now blessed in Christ? If so, it is because we always were blessed in him (Ephesians 1:3-14). And we shall yet be blessed by those dear hands. There is no power in heaven, in earth, or in hell which can reverse the blessings of our Lord. He who has ascended up to heaven left us a legacy of blessings from his hands. His hands will bless us while we live, bless us when we die, and will bless us in the judgment. His hands shall wave away his enemies into everlasting fire. And his hands will beckon us to glory, saying, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Christ lifted up his hands to bless us, and we are blessed indeed!
Nail Pierced Hands
Look again at those hands of our Lord by which we are blessed. They are nail pierced hands. Can you, with your mind’s eye, see him rising up into heaven? I do not know what the disciples saw last. Probably each one saw some distinguishing feature in the glorified Christ which they best remembered. But I am sure that they all beheld those distinguishing marks in his hands. Those hands bore the marks of the Crucified One. We cannot mistake him. This is the One who was nailed to the tree for us. What do these nail pierced hands tell us?
Those nail pierced hands identify our Lord. They tell us who he is. As the disciples beheld those blessed hands, with the nail holes still in them, they knew that it was indeed their Lord. And, when we see our Redeemer in glory, we shall know him by the prints of the nails in his hands. Yes, even in glory, our Lord bears the marks of his crucifixion. He appears in glory as “a Lamb that had been slain.” These are the hands that loose the seals and open the book of God’s decrees (Revelation 5:5), and fulfill all that is written in the book (Revelation 10:1-3).
For another thing, those nail pierced hands show us plainly the price of that blessing which Christ bestows. They tell us what he has done. Oh, he blesses us freely and bountifully; but who can tell what those blessings of grace have cost him?
“There’s ne’er a gift His hand bestows,
But cost His heart a groan!”
Yes, we are freely blessed; but every blessing we enjoy so freely is given to us by the nail pierced hands of our Redeemer. Had he not been nailed to that tree to die in our place, we could never have been saved. — “The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” We get everything through those nail pierced hands of our Lord. Righteousness is in those pierced hands. Redemption is in those pierced hands. Pardon is in those pierced hands. Peace is in those pierced hands.
With the touch of his nail pierced hand, the Son of God heals the sin-sick soul. Sinners cannot get any good thing, except through those nail pierced hands. These hands are the ladder which Jacob saw reaching from earth to heaven and from heaven to earth. Those nail pierced hands hold the keys of life. Those nail pierced hands open the gates of heaven. Those nail pierced hands are the only Refuge for our souls.
It is a great blessing just to look at those nail pierced hands. We would care nothing about merely seeing those hands with the mortal eye of this flesh out of curiosity. But, oh, what a blessing it is to look upon the nail pierced hands of our Redeemer with the eye of faith! Looking upon those nail pierced hands we are made to weep and mourn because of our sin. It was our sin that pierced him. Beholding his nail pierced hands we know that he has carried away all our sins, that he finished our salvation, and that we “shall never perish.”
By lifting up those nail pierced hands to bless his disciples, our Lord Jesus epitomized the gospel. Those hands were pierced in crucifixion so that they might be lifted up in salvation. There is the sinner’s Substitute going up to heaven with those nail pierced hands; and as he goes he scatters the blessing of grace upon us. The blessings of salvation could not be ours in any other way than through the nail pierced hands of our Substitute. Fall down before him and ask him to stretch over you those nail pierced hands.
The nail pierced hands of our Lord Jesus Christ now hold the scepter of total and sovereign dominion. They are the hands of him who alone is the Sovereign of the universe. We look back to Calvary and see those hands pierced in our redemption. We look back at Mt. Olivet and see those nail pierced hands lifted up to bless us. Now, we look up to heaven and see that those nail pierced hands, which bless us, rule the world for us (John 17:1-2; Psalm 68:17-18; Romans 14:9).
The nail pierced hands of our Christ hold the scepter of universal providence. “All things were made by him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17). All men are in his hands. All the demons of hell are in his hands. All events are in his hands.
“He’s got the whole world in His hands,
He’s got the whole wide world in His hands!”
King Jesus has power and control over all things, so that he might give eternal life to all those for whom his hands were pierced. Those nail pierced hands, which bless us, rule all things for the church he redeemed with his own precious blood (Revelation 1:16; Ephesians 1:19-23). Our Lord says, “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” And in those nail-prints the Son of God reads all the names of all his people. Those hands protect us. Those hands provide for us. Those hands preserve us. Those hands will present us faultless, unblameable, and unreproveable before the presence of his glory in heaven.
In the resurrection morning we shall see the nail pierced hands of our Redeemer. What a glorious sight that will be! When Rachel held Jacob’s hands, they must have appeared most precious to her. They bore the marks of his fourteen years of loving toil for her. And when we see the nail-prints in the hands of our Redeemer, we shall see the marks of his loving toil by which he redeemed us.
The nail pierced hands of our Lord Jesus Christ hold the scepter of righteous judgment, too. Those hands will slay all his enemies. And those hands will be held up as our only plea and our only defense in that great day. Have you seen Christ? Have you seen those hands pierced to redeem, lifted up to bless, exalted to save? — “Him hath God exalted with his own right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). Those nail pierced hands are able to save. They are full of forgiveness. Those nail pierced hands should compel us to worship him. They should cause us to consecrate ourselves to the glory of our Savior. Those nail pierced hands should fill us with comfort and joy. They should inspire us with patience. Those blessed hands, those nail pierced hands will accomplish God’s eternal purpose in all things. — “The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands.” May it please the Lord now to lift up his nail pierced hands to bless you, today, tomorrow and forever.
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