When God made His creatures, He did not simply make them and then leave them to their own devices. He is not watching us, as Bette Midler would assert, “from a distance.” He has taken it upon Himself to protect His people. The Creator took responsibility for the well-being of His creation. Our Savior’s hands are hands that protect. That was true when the disciples were alone in a boat. Jesus came to them in the midst of a storm; He was walking on water. The disciples were terrified, thinking Jesus was some sort of ghost. Jesus reassured them: “Be of good cheer. It is I; do not be afraid.” That wasn’t good enough for Peter. “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Peter is either incredibly confident in the Lord or incredibly foolish to test the Lord; maybe both. Either way, Jesus invited Peter to come to Him. You know the story. Peter stepped out of the boat and began to walk toward Jesus on the water. When he took his eyes off the Lord and allowed himself to be distracted by the winds and the waves and his own doubts, he began to sink. But our Lord reached out with His powerful hands and pulled Peter to safety.
How easy it is for human beings to be distracted by the fearful events of life. How easy it is to lose sight of the Lord who promises His goodness and mercy and protection to all. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be something terrifying to distract you from the Lord. You allow all sorts of everyday things to distract you, to pull your attention away from the Lord: relationships, jobs, school, sports, hobbies—the list could go on endlessly. Maybe you’re just not familiar enough with the Lord’s Word to trust in His goodness. Maybe you allow yourself to see the little things of this life more clearly or to view them as larger and more important than the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But your perception is skewed. Think about the many times our Lord’s hands protect His people. Think of the woman caught in the act of adultery, how He protected her from being stoned to death. Think of the many times He protected the lives of the disciples. Think of the time He healed Malchus, the servant of the high priest, whose ear Peter cut off. And In the same action of protecting the high priest’s servant, He protected Peter from certain death, telling Peter to sheathe his sword in the face of overwhelming odds.
Think of the many times you have had our Lord’s protection. Think of the times in childhood that the Lord protected you from illness or from the dangers of your curiosity. Think of the times our Lord guided the hands of doctors and nurses and other health care providers. Think of the times you’ve survived driving in Carbondale. You may rejoice with the Psalmist: “The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.” The hands of the Savior protect His creatures.
But beyond the needs and dangers of the body—beyond even the danger of physical death—you need protection for your soul. You need protection from the folly of your sin. Without this protection, without His intervention for the sake of your soul, you would face eternally damning consequences, far more deadly than the mere death of the body. With His hands our Savior carried the cross upon which He would die, suffering those consequences you deserved for your sins. He who protects you from the perils of this life also preserves you for eternal life.
Do not focus on the perils of this life. Do not even focus on the perils that come with your sin. Our Lord extends His hands to you, inviting you to come to Him, to trust in Him. He who has used His hands to pour Baptismal water on you, who has put His own body and blood in your mouth, will use those hands to shield you from all dangers of body and soul. With those hands He will lead you through the valley of the shadow of death and into His presence, where you shall dwell with Him in the house of the Lord forever. 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