Screams poured from the second floor of the burning house and cascaded down to the gathered crowd below as people watched, immobilized. No one seemed to know what action should be taken to rescue the young child trapped upstairs. His grandmother perished in the fire as she attempted to rescue him. A stranger appeared, assessed the situation and in a moment climbed up an iron drain pipe close to the window where the child was seen. He gathered the boy into his arms and to the cheers of the crowd he climbed down that hot drain pipe. While saving the boy, his hands were burned and terribly scarred.

Some time passed, and the custody of the boy was to be discussed at a town meeting. One by one, different people spoke as to how they could best take care of the child. Then a man stood and held out his scarred hands. The youngster immediately recognized him as the man who had saved him by climbing up and down the scalding drain pipe.

The others rose and left without a word. The boy embraced the man who had saved his life. Those scarred hands said more than any words could say.

Jesus the Savior has come with His scarred hands to speak love, redemption and peace to a world in need of saving!

Jesus' Hands of Peace Turn Our Fears to Joy (John 20:19-20)
How often did Jesus tell His disciples they would feel the full brunt of the hatred of the world as He experienced it (John 15:18-20; John 16:2; John 17:14)? If the Master was persecuted, would not His followers, also? They finally grasped the significance as post-crucifixion and post-resurrection they felt fear surging through their hearts and minds. Locking themselves inside the upper room, they cowered every time there was a knock on the door. Maybe that is why Jesus decided to enter without knocking or unlocking the door. He wanted to assure them it really was Him and they need not fear.

Roger Fredrikson asked the question pointedly: "How often the contemporary church finds itself behind closed doors, fearful and ineffectual, living on the wrong side of the resurrection. The problems are so vast and the enemy so overwhelming, and all the talk about Jesus seems futile. What can be done but hide in the sanctuary discussing how desperate the situation is?"

Standing in the middle of the circle of disciples, Jesus showed them His hands where they were pierced with nails and His side where the spear had entered. There is no question as to who this person is; it is the resurrected Jesus! These scars authenticated His ministry of salvation to the world. As the church, His body on Earth, we must bear the scars of ministry if we are to be authentic in our ministry to others, as well.

The exciting revelation turned their fears into complete joy!

Jesus' Hands of Peace Share His Spirit of Forgiveness (John 20:21-23)
Jesus shared the Holy Spirit with these disciples with a warning. He was telling His disciples that in His Spirit they must not become people of revenge or hold grudges or anger toward those who persecuted Jesus or them. If the good news of salvation was to be propagated, it would have to be done to those who tormented them. An unforgiving church can stand in the way of the forgiveness God has as His mission to the world. Someone observed that God does not have a backup plan if the church should fail. The church can fail God; the church can constrict the forgiving power of God's grace. Forgiveness only can come through the hands of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus' Hands of Peace Generate Faith (John 20:27-29)
Thomas is called the doubter, but he was an honest doubter! He questioned the reality of such an unusual event despite the 10 assuring him of what had happened in his absence. A week later, all the disciples were together, including Thomas; and Jesus appeared to them on that Sunday with the same words He had the week before: "Peace be with you!" Then looking Thomas straight in the eyes, He said, "Put your finger here, see my hands. Reach out your hand, put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe" (John 20:27, NIV). Those hands of faith generated faith for Thomas…even though he never touched them.

Unlike Thomas, we are called to believe though we do not see Jesus or feel the nail prints in His hands. Jesus commented, "blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29b). That's us! To walk by faith and not by sight means we are moved to action not by what we see but what we believe.

Jesus' Hands of Peace Command Us to Remain Faithful (John 20:30-31)
The disciples, including Thomas, would become the core that would transform their world with the gospel. Their faithfulness would send gospel waves throughout the world for the centuries to come until Jesus returns. How faithful are we? Are you ready to remain faithful to Jesus to the very end?

Jesus' hands are stretched out for you to take hold of and change the world through faith.