Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13)
We have all heard the phrase, “You are the hands and feet of Jesus,” which is a reminder to Christians that we are ambassadors of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because Jesus is no longer in the world today, but rather seated in the heavenly realms at the right hand of God the Father, we are to be His hands and His feet. But what does this metaphor truly mean?
When we hear the phrase, “You are the hands and feet of Jesus,” it is used almost exclusively in the context of serving. Serve the poor and the marginalized. Serve a cup of cold water to those who thirst. Serve within some ministry within the church. Serve on a committee or during an event. Serve as our Lord and Savior served, because He did not come to be served, but to serve others (Mark 10:45).
All these activities are right and true, but I have a question for you: When was the last time you heard this metaphor used in relation to suffering? Let us make no mistake: the hands and feet of our Lord Jesus Christ both served and suffered.
In the apostle Paul’s second letter to his protégé Timothy, he made it crystal clear what the Christian can expect to experience in this life: “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Suffering for the saints of God comes in a variety of ways: from storms of sickness to relationship rejections to public persecution. If space permitted, you and I could create a long list of the suffering we should expect to experience in this life. Waves of challenge have been promised, and we should not be surprised when they crash over our lives. This is the deepest meaning of being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Perhaps the best way to prepare ourselves for this reality is to keep in view how the hands and feet of our Lord were pierced for our transgressions. Jesus was nailed to our cross, with our nails, and died our death, that we might be made the children of God and live forevermore. Remember, we were the joy set before our Lord as He suffered and died in our place (Hebrews 12:2). When He uttered that heart-wrenching cry, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” He endured that awful separation from His Father because of His love for you and me.
As the hands and feet of Jesus, let us advance in this life through seasons of both serving and suffering, knowing that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Cross Community Church recently concluded our second annual Christmas program. There were a number of high points for me as I watched each performance, but certainly one of those was hearing Meg Carter of Stetson University singing Twila Paris’s song “How Beautiful” in her lovely, rich, clear voice. I’d like to close today’s message with some of those lyrics:
And as He laid down His life
we offer this sacrifice
that we will live just as he died:
willing to pay the price
willing to pay the price.
How beautiful the radiant Bride
who waits for her Groom
with His light in her eyes.
How beautiful when humble hearts give
the fruit of pure lives
so that others may live.
how beautiful is the body of Christ.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!