Is Christmas a matter of the heart? The mind? The soul? The spirit? Yes to all!
I would suggest that Christmas is also very much a matter of the hands…
The prophets’ hands held the writing instruments that recorded the future coming of Jesus. God, speaking through the prophets, foretold the coming of the Messiah, the One also referred to as the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Redeemer, and the Anointed One. The list goes on, but it wasn’t just what he was referred to but what he would do – He would save his people from their sins.
John the Baptist’s hands moved with his whole body when he leaped for joy in his mother’s womb when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, came into their presence. John would grow up to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. When both John and Jesus were adults, perhaps John gestured toward Jesus with his hands when he said: “Behold the Lamb of God!”
Zacharias’ hands wrote the name John on a tablet. When he did so, his tongue was loosened. Then, filled with the Holy Spirit, he prophesied about his son John, who would go before the Lord. But the foundation of his prophesy was focused on God and His plan of redemption for His people.
One ruler’s hands wrote a decree for a census to be taken of the entire Roman world. That caused Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem, the town of David, because Joseph belonged to the house of David. It was part of the many prophesies that were made and subsequently fulfilled about the Messiah.
Joseph’s hands assisted his very pregnant wife as they journeyed to Bethlehem to register for the census. Perhaps he used his spiritual hands to spiritually rein in his heart because when he first heard that Mary was pregnant (and that was certainly not of his own involvement) before they were married, he thought of quietly divorcing her. But an angel of the Lord told him not to divorce her, and he was now traveling to Bethlehem as a married man with a very pregnant wife. And Joseph’s life would never be the same, as he had a unique part to play in the life of the Messiah.
An innkeeper’s hands held sway over where Mary would give birth to Jesus. There was no room in the inn, so Mary was directed to a stable where she would give birth to Jesus. In God’s economy, the humble stable, where animals were normally kept, was where a humble servant king would be born.
Mary’s hands held the baby and wrapped Him in cloths and placed him in a manger. It would not take too much imagination to consider all the other things that her hands would be engaged in as she cared for the baby Jesus.
The shepherd’s hands held their staffs, tools of their trade. Their trade occupied a place toward the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. Instead of announcing the birth of Jesus to the dignitaries and the political leaders and the religious leaders of the time, God announced it first to these shepherds on the night shift. After being scared to death by a bunch of angels, they hurried to see this Christ, the Lord. After seeing him, they returned to their fields, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.
Simeon’s hands held the infant Jesus in the temple. He was a man who longed for the consolation of Israel. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Now he was seeing, in his very own arms, the One who would bring salvation to all people. He praised God and was assured that he could now depart in peace.
Anna’s hands served at the temple day and night. When she saw Jesus, this prophetess gave thanks to God. But she didn’t just stop there: she spoke of this One she had seen to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Some wise men’s hands likely did all the normal and routine things that hands do on a long and arduous journey. Perhaps their hands also frequently pointed to the star that guided their way to Bethlehem. Speculation aside, their hands did carry certain gifts for a king.
One wise man’s hands held a gift of gold for Jesus. Gold was a gift that was often given to kings. It was also a symbol of deity. Thus the symbols together speak of the divinity of Jesus and, as king, that He alone would reign over an eternal kingdom.
Another of the wise men’s hands held the frankincense, a costly ingredient in ointments, perfumes, and oils. It was used in the anointing oil for priests and, as such, was considered holy. This speaks of the sinless perfection of the great High Priest, Jesus, who offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.
A third wise man’s hands held the myrrh, a costly herb that was bitter and fragrant. It was mixed with oil to anoint a body for burial. This speaks of the sufferings that Jesus would endure in bearing the sins of the world when He died on the cross.
A baby’s hands were part of the physical body of the One getting all this attention. This baby Jesus who entered the world was not just any baby but this was the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
This baby’s hands also remarkably and unmistakably held the hope of the entire world because He would save His people from their sins.
Our hands are normally so busy during the Christmas season that we run the risk of not taking the time to stop and ponder what Christmas is all about. In the midst of this year’s Christmas, may your hands be found pointing to and reaching out to Jesus!