The hands of our Lord Jesus have the power to raise the dead. This makes our Lord uniquely qualified to be the Redeemer of the world. The Son of God is in control of life and death; He can help us in life and serve us even in the hour of our death. This is important, because death is God’s enemy. And because death is God’s enemy, death is the enemy of everyone who trusts in God.
This ruler, this man of authority, came to see Jesus with a plea for our Lord’s all-availing mercy. The man’s daughter was dying, and Christ’s reputation had come before Him. Jesus would not refuse. Responding to the man’s prayer, the Son of God determined to use His hands to restore life. With the interruption of the woman on the way, the little girl was dead by the time Jesus arrived. The mourners were already gathered. It seemed as though death had already claimed this girl as his victim. But Jesus would not allow death to have the victory. He told the mourners that the girl was only asleep. Leaving the scorn of the mourners behind, Jesus went into the house. He took the little girl by the hand, and He raised her from death into life.
This was not the first time our Lord had made life. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, including all living things. As we confess in the Nicene Creed, all things were made by our Lord Jesus. Life is the very reason He came in the flesh to dwell among His people. This is how He explained His purpose: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” This life He came to give was so much more than just inhaling and exhaling; this life He brought with Him is linked to very heart of God Himself. He came so that we would have a faith to rely on God. He came so that we would have a hope which would depend on what God alone can do. He came so that we would have that peace which the world cannot give. He came so that we would enjoy communion with God and fellowship with our neighbors.
So that this little girl would have that life, our Lord used His hands—the same hands by which He gave life to the world—to raise her from the dead. That action also gave that same life to her father. These were not the children of Israel, but Jesus came for them anyway. The hands of the Savior worked to bring endless blessings to both Jews and Gentiles, believers and doubters. He came to lay His hands upon us who were dead in our sin and raise us to new life.
Where do you stand before God? Are you alive in Christ? Or are you dead in your sin? The hands of Jesus have raised you from death to life. At your Baptism, our Lord placed His hand upon you, pouring His Word-filled water upon you, marking you upon your forehead and your heart with the sign of His cross as one who has received the forgiveness He died to bring. It is the Lord’s hand which makes the sign of the cross over you as He speaks His word of forgiveness to you. It is the Lord’s hand which places His body in your mouth to feed you with forgiveness. In all these things He gives you abundant life. The hands that led you into Sunday School and Catechism classes; the hands that brought you to worship the first time and every time since; the hands that hold you up and comfort you in times of grief: these are the hands of Jesus, touching you, blessing you, raising you up, giving you that life He came to bring.
And He came to give you that life, to raise you up, by dying in your place, letting His hands be nailed to the cross in place of your hands. His love for you is beyond measure. It is a love so powerful, so astonishing, that you can be sure that the same hands that raised this little girl from the dead will pull you from the veil of tears, through the valley of the shadow of death, to rest in His arms, until that day when He will raise you and all the faithful to life everlasting. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.
Sermon Topics: Hands of Jesus Lent series