“My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay they hand upon her, and she shall live.” Matthew 9:18
“All they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.” Luke 4:40
There was a sweet and touching experience that took place in my presence two weeks ago tomorrow. I was to preach in Pensacola, Florida, at the city auditorium on Monday night, Tuesday morning, and Tuesday night. I was to leave O’Hare Field at a certain hour, but the flight was cancelled. I had to take another flight, which was late getting into Atlanta, Georgia. Then I found out that the flight from Atlanta that was going on to New Orleans was an hour and a half late. I got into New Orleans too late to catch the flight to Pensacola.
It was almost eleven o’clock by the time I got to Pensacola. I had missed my speaking engagement Monday night. I did speak Tuesday morning and Tuesday night, but had missed my Monday night engagement.
Now get the picture. It was almost eleven o’clock when I got to Pensacola. I expected someone to meet me, of course, because my plane was late. But there were numbers of people. For example, there was a car load of preachers; I think four preachers came to meet me. But there was a little lady; she must have been at least 80. she waddled when she walked and her hair was just as white as hair can be, I suspect. She was also there over in the corner. I guess there were two car loads of people altogether. About a dozen folks, and that’s very unusual. Usually just one person meets me, and that’s the mayor or somebody. Anyway, I shook hands with everybody and greeted them. It was almost eleven o’clock at night. I had shaken all the hands, and I saw the little short, tubby lady, 80 years of age, I guess, walking away alone.
I went out to the parking lot and I noticed she walked to a car by herself. I had done my best to be courteous to her as I try to be to everybody. She got in her car and I said to the pastor driving my car or the car I was in. “Look, where’s she going? Is she alone? Isn’t she with us or is she with the other group?” He said, “No. that little lady has driven over 150 miles just to shake your hand. She has heard of you. She read your book. She’s read your sermons and you are her favorite preacher.”
She drove over 150 miles just to shake my hand, and she could not go to sleep that night before she did. So she drove to the airport rather than going back to her room and waiting until the next day. She drove to the airport and stayed there. Now bear in mind, I was to arrive there about 6:15 p.m., and she had been there from 6:15 p.m. until almost 11:00 p.m., so they say, just to shake my hand.
Often I’ve thought about the touch of the hand. I recall a famous person whose hand I touched once. The feeling of the touch of the hand of that famous person for the first time. The touch of the hand. Someone wrote a song, “Oh, the touch of His hand on min.” Another wrote, “Have you failed in your plans of your storm-tossed life, place your hand in the nail scarred hand. Are you weary and worn with its toil and strife? Place your hand in the nail-scarred hand.”
By the way, just yesterday I was standing here making the nation-wide broadcast, and Mr. And Mrs. Sanchez and their five children (Where are they this morning? The Sanchezes. Here they are. The seven of them—baptized a few days ago. All of them won to Christ by Mrs. Tony) were testifying on the nation-wide broadcast. They started to leave. Mrs. Sanchez speaks for Mr. Sanchez. There are two reasons why she speaks for him: (1) That’s what all ladies do; and (2) He doesn’t understand English very well. He speaks Spanish. So she spoke and she said, “Brother Hyles, before we leave, my husband wants to shake your hand.” And, of course, I went down and shook his hand.
Just the other day a little child about four years of age was out in front of my office after the service. I opened the door to see who else was there, and a little child had been waiting to see me, about four years old, and asked if he could shake my hand.
Hands are very interesting things. For centuries people have been noticing the hands. Fortune tellers will read the palm of your hand. Doctors say they can tell somewhat the state of your physical condition by your hands. If your hand is clammy or hot, maybe there’s some kind of illness on the way. They say that dryness and yellowness of hands denotes typhoid fever. I guess there are about 2,000 dry hands turning yellow right now in the service! Then the spotty hands give us an idea that there are some adrenal problems in our body. Hands have 58 bones and 38 muscles and one and one-half million sense organs. People through the centuries have been studying the hands.
Dr. Ray Birdwinsdale (now that’s a name—Ray Birdwinsdale) of the University of Louisville has a survey about the hands and noticing the hands, but he came up with several interesting things. He said the patting of the hair means approval. The tugging of the sleeve means I’m pleased with myself, so he said. A hand in the belt means a good job well done. The hand up to the mouth means skepticism. The rubbing of the nose means rejection. I’m not sure about that but I see a lot of folks-about 50 folks rubbed their nose just then. That means rejection.
In the Bible, in the New Testament alone, in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—four so-called gospels—the hands of Christ were mentioned 45 times. It is a very interesting thing to me about the personal touch of Jesus Christ. I was reading in Mark, Chapter 7, this week about Christ, and it said, “He sighed.” I’ve never quite thought about Christ sighing. I mean Jesus had compassion and He sighed. Jesus always took time for the personal touch. The hands of Christ.
Our text a while ago, Luke 4:40, said He laid hands on each of them. When Thomas, in the upper room, came and Jesus said, “Behold, my hands,” Thomas said, “Except I see His hands.” Thomas could have said, “Except I see His eyes.” He could have said, “Except I hear His voice.” But Thomas said, “Except I see His hands.”
Now in Mark, Chapter One, for example, there’s a man full of leprosy. The Bible says that Jesus stretched for His hand and touched the man with leprosy. Now here’s a man who had not been touched for years. In fact, he was admonished. He was commanded to cry, “Unclean, unclean!” everywhere he went. Nobody could touch a leper. Here is the creator of the universe taking time to reach with His hand and touch a leper. I wonder how far you’ve gone from God today. You’ve not gone so far away but what he could not touch you with His hand this morning. You’ve not drifted so far from God’s will but what He could not touch you with His hand. You’ve not gone so far into sin but what God would not reach down with His hand and lift you up this morning.
Many of you have heard me tell the story about a conference I was preaching in Natchez, Mississippi. It must have been fifteen years ago. I was preaching there for Dr. James Crumpton in the West Side Baptist Church of Natchez. One night during invitation a lady came down against the wall over here. She was bumping from the wall to the pew, just a vile looking lady. She was obviously inebriated. (That means “drunk” in the Greek.)
She was drunk and came down and looked at me and she said, “Mister, I want to get saved.” I had never done this before, but I reached out and I put my hand on her head. I prayed for her with my hand on her head. She was obviously drunk at the time. I asked for folks, if they would, to go by, one a day, for thirty days to pray with her and visit her and encourage her.
I was back a year later in Natchez, Mississippi. After the service, three nice-looking, middle-aged ladies came down. One said to me, “Do you know me?” A lovely lady she was, and I said, “No, I don’t.” She said, “You don’t remember me?” I said, “No, I don’t. Why?” She said, “Are you sure you don’t know me?” I said, “I don’t know you.” And she said, “I want to get saved.” And I said, “Oh, you’re the lady.” And she said, “Yes, I’m the lady. I’m not a school teacher here in the city of Natchez.” I recall how I placed my hand on her head.
So often I’ll touch a little child on its head or flip a little boy on his ear. Out here one time, you’ve heard me tell many times, I tied a little boy’s shoe. And he said, “Mama, did you see God tie my shoe today?” I walked down this aisle right here the other day, and a little girl, about three or four years old, was sitting right there next to the aisle. Another little girl about the same age walked right down this aisle, and I reached over and kissed the little girl, the one next to the aisle, on the cheek. So I walked by and had my service, and that was the evening hour, my early class. The next Sunday night I walked down the same aisle. The same two girls were there. One little girl looked at the other sort of cocky like, and she said, “See him, he’s Brother Hyles. He kisses me.”
Now, you know, the personal touch. Would you be like Christ? You’ll have to have the personal touch. Would you be like Christ? Christ was always reaching out with His hand and blessing another. Matthew 8:15 it speaks about Jesus going into the home where Peter’s mother-in-law was, and it says, “He touched her hand and the fever left her.”
Matthew 9:18 tells about Jairus’ daughter. The Bible says He came and laid His hand upon her. In Mark 7:32 is a very interesting verse and an interesting story. It says that they came to beseech Him that He may lay His hands on him. In Mark 8:22 a blind man came. The blind man asked Him to put His hands on him.
You see, people have gotten the idea that Jesus, when he healed someone or blessed someone, touched them with His hand. And so they came and said, “Touch us with your hand, Master. Lay your hand on the blind man. Lay your hand on this man sick of palsy. Lay your hand on these people who are not well!” They besought Him that He would lay His hands on them.
And again in Luke 13:11-13 we find a person who had been sick for 18 years and the Bible says, “Jesus laid His hands on her.” Then Luke 4:40, I like that, “He laid His hands on every one of them.”
He wants to lay His hands this morning on the life of every child in this building. He wants to lay His hands this morning on the life of every teenager sitting over there. But he wants to lay His hands on your life.
How many times have I said this? “He is a personal Savior.” He is not just a great big omnipotent God, way up in the heavens, that we send telegrams to and say, “Thou, the great God!” No. He is a personal Savior! He is concerned about the minutest detail of your life. He wants to lay His hands on your life.
I’m not sure how many of these brethren on the platform can say the same thing, but many times in my life I’ve been out visiting, and there would be a fellow working in the yard or trying to repair the lawnmower, and I would win him to Christ. There was a fellow here visiting us not long ago. His name was Gerald Coke. He’s a businessman now in Texas, a very successful man. He and his wife were on vacation and came through. I won him to Christ in his garage while he was repairing his lawnmower.
I walked in and he was a greasy mess. I mean, he was like me. Listen, I can repair a pair of scissors, and I’ll have to get gasoline to wipe the grease off me when I get through. He was a greasy mess. I walked in and said, “Mr. Coke.” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “I’m Brother Hyles.” I stuck my hand out and he said, “Why, Reverend.” He said, “My hand is greasy and dirty.” I said, “That doesn’t make any difference. I didn’t come to shake a certain kind of a hand. I came to shake your hand!”
He said, “Reverend, I’m not going to do it.” I said, “Put your hand there, buddy. Shake my hand!” And he shook my hand and got grease all over my hand. (I wished I hadn’t done it.) But I shook his hand and he looked at me and he said, “You’re a regular guy. You are a regular guy!” And in a few minutes, he received Christ on his knees in his garage while he was repairing his lawnmower.
How many times I have had someone reach out and shake my hand. Their hand was dirty. The touch of the hand. I’ll tell you something else, too. I have had people tell me by the dozens just casually, tat when they shook my hand or the hand of some of the men of God, something wonderful and marvelous happened. It was George Whitefield, the great English preacher, who said that when the ordination service took place and Bishop Benson laid his hands on his head, he knew then and there for the first time he was filled with the Holy Spirit.
When the Apostle Paul and Barnabas went out on the first missionary journey from the church at Antioch, the Bible says they gathered themselves together and laid their hands on them. When the seven deacons were chosen in Acts, Chapter 6, it says they laid their hands on them. The personal touch of the hands, especially the hands of Christ.
I like the story in Mark 10. it’s about Verse 13. When the little children came, the mothers brought the children to Christ. They sought Him that He would lay His hands on them. The little children were in the mothers’ arms, and the disciples said, “He’s busy. Leave Him alone.” And Jesus said, “Now, you leave them alone. You let those little children come to me.” And our Lord walked around and He laid his hands on this one and said, “Bless this one and God bless this one. And God bless this one. May the Lord bless this one.” He took time to lay His hands on them. Jesus always took time.
Do you recall that story in the upper room in John, Chapter 13? When they had gathered there for the institution of the Lord’s Supper, the Bible says that after they had finished supper, our Lord got a basin of water and girded himself. He took off his garments from the waist up, girded himself, and bowed down to wash the feet of the disciples.
He washed the feet of Peter. Peter said, “You’re not going to watch my feet.” And the Lord said, “If I don’t wash your feet, I’ll have nothing to do with you.” Peter said, “Give me a bath. Wash me all over.” Our Lord said, “You don’t need but one bath, and you get that when you get saved.” You need daily cleansing, daily walking. And so our Lord took His hands and washed the feet of the disciples.
I wonder if it may not be possible that the first thing we’ll want to touch when we see Christ would be His hands. He says in Revelation, Chapter 2, that he holds the preachers in His hands. How many times do we read in the Bible how Christ lifted this one up by the hand, and He put His hand on this one and put His hand on that one. And so His life was characterized by the personal touch.
Now look. Look. That means He knows where you sit this morning. He knows every burden of your life. He knows every heartache you feel. He knows every sorrow that you possess. He knows every decision that you have to make tomorrow. He knows every place you’ll go. He knows everything about you, and He wants to place His hand on your life today!
If you have never yet in your life yielded yourself to the touch of the Savior and let Him have His hand on you and your life, then you’re a miserable wretch on your way to eternity without God and miserable on the way. Look, there’s no person in this house today that could have a happier and better life and, of course, a better eternity if you would just yield your hand to the hand of Christ.
I wonder what the touch of the hand has meant. Maybe there’s a loved one that’s lying in the casket. The body is there. Someone came by and he slipped his hand into yours, and you felt a warmth and a blessedness and a calm. I can tell you many, many times, when I have been discouraged a bit and somebody has taken his hand and just patted me on the back a bit, and the touch of the hand, just patting on the back has meant the difference.
Sometimes I’ve seen one reach up with a hand and touch the elbow of another or pat the elbow. I saw a lady whose husband was unsaved in this building sitting right back here one day. He was standing there during the invitation. He had his hand on the pew, and he was shaking like this, and the lady reached out, and she just patted his hand like that. When she patted his hand, he broke in tears and came down.
Now the Lord Jesus Christ knows your name. He knows where you live. He knows your phone number. He knows all about you. He wants to come into your life and help you change it and make you happy by touching you with His hand.
But the Bible says that after the fullness of time came, our Lord went to the cross and on the cross, those same hands that reached out and touched those little children and blessed them; those same hands that lifted up Jairus’s daughter; those same hands that raised up Peter’s mother-in-law; those same hands that reached down and touched that leper; those same hands that reached down and touched that lady who had an infirmity for 18 long years; those same hands that reached down and lifted up that man by the pool of Bethesda who for 38 long years had been lying there waiting for someone to put him in the water; those same hands that always, lovingly, were helping people. They took a big tree, cut it down, and made a cross out of it. They laid Jesus down flat on His back on that old, bark-rough cross. The Bible says that they stretched out His hands, those sweet and precious hands, and they drove nails and spikes into them.
On the cross, those hands that were blessing little children, were pierced with nails of hate. Those hands that once had reached down and lifted the mother-in-law from her sick bed were now pierced with the nails of antagonism. Those same hands that had blessed the little children and said “God bless you” and “God bless this one.” Now the sins of mankind have placed nails and spikes in those hands, those precious, beautiful hands of Christ always doing good, always trying to encourage people, always touching people, always helping people. Now those same hands are nailed to the cross of Calvary. What are those hands bleeding for? What’s it all about? He was dying in your place, paying the price of your sins.
Listen. In the hands of Christ, you’ll find the Gospel. In the hands nailed to Calvary, you’ll find the way to get saved. In the hands on your life, you’ll find the way to live once you get saved. Once you trust the prints of the nails in His hands, and you trust the price that he paid for you on the cross, by simple faith God makes you His child, writes your name in Heaven, and creates a new creature in you. You are born again!
Once you’re born again, there is absolutely now way to live a life pleasing to God unless you live the life in His hands, with His hand on you and with the hand of God’s blessing around you. God wants to give you salvation through those bleeding hands. He wants to give you comfort and strength through those ministering hands.
But He goes to the cross. He dies for you. He dies for me. He becomes your substitute. He becomes my substitute. Those same hands that reached down and touched the little children now are lying in the tomb outside the northern wall of Jerusalem. In that tomb, I can see in my mind’s eye now, where twice I have knelt and thanked God for the empty tomb, where twice I have sung, “Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph o’er His foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain, Now he lives forever with His saints to reign.”
For three days and three nights those hands with the scars and the dried blood still on the palms, those hands of Christ lay lifeless in the grave. Perhaps they lay across His breast like this, maybe down by His side, maybe a hand is on His heart, who knows. But in that sepulcher outside the northern walls of the city near that garden, the hands of Christ are laying lifeless and still for three days and three nights.
After three days and three nights the Bible says that He rolled back the stone and came forth victoriously as a conquering hero over death, over Satan and over the grave. Now those hands are alive again! But you’ll notice the scars are still there.
He appears to those men in the upper room, the disciples in the upper room and they shriek. They are afraid. They think they have seen a ghost. And He says, “No. It is I. Be not afraid. Be of good cheer.” He holds His hands forth and those same hands that they had seen touch the hand of Jairus’ daughter and raise her up, those same hands that they had seen touch Peter’s mother-in-law, those same hands that they had seen bless little children, those same hands that they had seen touch the wicked, vile leper, those same hands are alive, but the scars are there.
As long as God lives and as long as there is a heaven, the scars of Calvary will be in the precious hands of Christ. I think one of the first things we’ll do in Heaven, is touch His hands and say, “Thank You that Your hands bore the price for our sins.”
But now wait a minute. It isn’t long until He goes out on the Mount of Ascension. Up on the eastern side of Jerusalem is the Mount of Olives. At the top of that mount, there is a little place, a little enclosure. They call it the place of ascension. On top of that mountain with Bethany on this side and Jerusalem on this side, our Lord is going back to Heaven. Before He goes back to Heaven what’s the last thing Jesus did? He lifted up His hands and blessed them. That’s the last thing He did. Always using His hands.
Whether He was in a home with Peter’s mother-in-law, whether he was outside with little children coming to Him, whether He was healing a person or saving a leper or saving a soul or going back to Heaven, it was always the hands. Don’t you think maybe He raised up His hands as He went back to Heaven so they could see the scars on His hands?
As our Lord went back up into Heaven, you might wonder maybe that one reason why they gazed up into Heaven—two angels had to come and say, “Don’t gaze up into Heaven.” You think the scars got smaller and smaller and a little smaller as He went up into Heaven.
Oh, the disciples could say, “Those hands bore the price for my sin. The nails and spikes in those hands gave us hope for heaven.” And I’m sure they said, “How many times He blessed us. How many times has He blessed others and healed others with those hands.”
But in Revelation 1:7, we find the last mention of His hands in the Bible. Revelation 1:7 says that the Lord is speaking to John on the Isle of Patmos. And an angel comes and is going to speak to John. John is afraid and he shrieks back, and the Bible says He laid his right hand upon him and He said, “John, don’t be afraid.” He laid His right hand upon him.
How many times have you heard me tell this story? How many times has some preacher told it, but it is so appropriate here. A little lady was dying in a distant city. A sweet, Christian lady. A lady who had known the Savior and walked with God for many years. They called her pastor to come and be with her at her hour of death. He was out of the state and could not come. A friend called her pastor; he was not of the same faith, and he said he would go.
He rushed to the bedside of this dear, little saint of God, who now was going to heaven. The pastor got there and the little lady looked up and said, “Thank you for coming,” as she was slipping away toward eternity. The pastor looked and he said—he had a different kind of clothes than I wear; he didn’t wear a tie—he came and he said, “Before you die, could I forgive your sin?” The little Christian lady looked up, and she said, “What?” He said, “Could I absolve any of your sins before you go?” She said, “Well, maybe you can if you can pass the test.” He said, “What’s the test?” She said, “Would you lift up your hand, please?” And that preacher raised up his left hand. They dying little lady said, “Would you raise your right hand, please?” And he raised his right hand. In her last breath in that sweet voice of Heaven, she looked up and she said, “No, sir. I’m sorry. You can’t forgive my sins. For you see, sir, my Savior has scars in His hands.” My Savior has scars in His hands, and today He still has those scars!
Scars because He bore your sins in His own body on the tree. Scars because He who was perfect was willing to bear your sins. Scars because He who was rich was willing to become poor. Scars because He who was God was willing to become flesh. But you and I as fallen, sin-depraved creatures might someday be as God.
The hands of Christ. He said to Thomas, “Behold, my hands.” This morning would you behold His hands? If you’re not saved, would you behold His hands and trust Him as your Savior? If you are saved, would you behold His hands as he blessed the child over here and raised up the widow over here and put His hand on Peter’s mother-in-law with a fever over here, and touched the leper over here. Would you let Him touch your life today?
I am talking to some people this morning who are not saved, who have never trusted Christ as your Savior. If you do not know that if you died today, you would go to heaven look at His hands this morning! Trust Him as your Savior! Become a Christian! Say yes to God! Walk out these doors with your names written in heaven, knowing that you’re a child of God.
“Have you failed in your plan of your storm-tossed life? Place your hand in the nail-scarred hands. Are you weary and worn with its toil and strife? Place your hand in the nail-scarred hand. Place your hand in the nail-scarred hand. Place your hand in the nail-scarred hand. He is your dearest friend. He will keep until the end. Place your hand in the nail-scarred hand.”
And then, this morning, if you have done that, you have trusted Christ. You have burdens and heartaches and problems and decisions; then let the hand of Christ reach out and bless you and strengthen you today.
Let us pray.