The audio for this sermon was of poor quality, so the manuscript has been included below. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Our overall theme for Lent, “Filling Empty Hands,” made me think of an old Peanuts comic strip. Linus is chomping on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He notices his hands and exclaims, “Hands are fascinating things. I like my hands. I think I have nice hands. My hands seem to have a lot of character. Lucy comes on the scene and Linus continues. These are hands which may someday do marvelous works. They may build bridges or heal the sick or hit home runs, or write soul-stirring novels. Speaking loudly He exclaims in Lucy’s face, “One day these hands may change the course of destiny.” Lucy looks down at them and says, “Your hands have jelly on them.”
Let’s look at our hands. Do they have jelly on them? NOT the jelly which goes with peanut butter, but the sticky, tarry jelly of sin. Yes! They do! It’s very difficult to remove. In fact, for us, it’s impossible! Now, put your hands in the hands of Jesus and look at them again. Do you see any sticky tar? NO! Why not? He has cleansed them, washed them snow-white clean in the blood of his hands which were nailed to a cross – FOR YOU. Praise and thank God!
Even though our hands are washed absolutely clean by the blood of Jesus, there are times when they seem empty, paralyzed, powerless. Life throws at us problems and troubles and tragedies which leave us on the borderline of hopeless. So it was with Jairus, a respected layman who was in charge of the business of the synagogue. His 12 year old daughter had just died. Initially, everything looked hopeless. So it was with the nameless woman who had a 12 year issue with bleeding, which in the 1st century culture of Judaism meant that she was ceremonially unclean and an outcast. She had almost given up hope.
I’ll ask you again. Ever been there? – confronted by a situation which seemed hopeless? That’s when we need the Word of God. Let’s listen in to a conversation between Mary and the angel. “Mary, you’re pregnant and you will give birth to a son. “How can this be?” asked Mary, “I am a virgin.” “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” “FOR NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD.”
NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD. Jairus experienced that. In faith he turned to Jesus, who put His hand in the hand of the girl and restored her to life. In faith the nameless woman reached out her hand to touch his robe, and her health was restored. Our God specializes in RESTORATION! In His grace, mercy, and love He continuously restores our hands and hearts and lives tarred by sin and washes them clean.
In faith we fold and our hands and talk to Him in prayer, expressing our praise and thanksgiving, asking that our prayers be in harmony with His will. There are times when our faith is strong and it’s relatively easy for us to pray, “Lord, take my hand and lead me.” There are times when our faith struggles and God says to us in His Word, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in harmony with God’s will.”
What an awesome, amazing God we have. He fills our empty hands with the presence of the Holy Spirit and His forgiving love in Jesus Christ. Amen.