Reading His Palms

carpenterYou really can tell a lot about a person’s life by reading palms.

No, not that kind! Not like a psychic on a treasure hunt for the future.

More like an anthropologist searching for meaning in the past. Study the callouses.

These scars of repetition and wear marks of routine show where and how the daily has rubbed ruts in hands…and lives.

For instance, you can tell a carpenter by where the hammer and chisel have worn rugged pathways from forests of planks pounded, moldings crafted, stairs fitted and rafters set.

Jesus had those callouses. And we can tell a lot by reading His palms.

We have only brief snippets from the first two years of His life and a sliver of time when He was 12 in the Temple. Then the next time we see Him He starts His three-year public journey to the cross.

We essentially have 28 years of silence. Years when God went incognito among us.

There could not have been a more:

  •  non-descript life than that of the carpenter.
  • dead-end street than Nazareth in Galilee.
  • ordinary family than Joseph and Mary.
  • routinized existence than being Jewish.

When it comes to normal, Jesus set the bar.

He slung a hammer and worked a chisel to shape stones and make furniture. He who made trees made tables from them. He who shaped mountains crafted houses from their quarried stones.

You could not describe a more average life than His. Yet, you could not imagine one more extraordinary.

We often think of the three years of public ministry—the teaching, signs, wonders, miracles—as the most important of Jesus’ life. The ones that really counted. But all the years we know nothing about are just as vital to our transformation as the three we see played out on history’s stage.

In those silent years Jesus was doing what we do every day. Working the Kingdom into ordinary life.

Before he talked about it, He did it. Every day Jesus felt the tension of a divine mandate, an eternal purpose—a world-making, history-shaping destiny—lived in a hammer and nails reality.

I have no excuse for irrelevance. I cannot dismiss my life as too banal to leave a mark or too mundane to make a difference.

Had Jesus not had callouses, I might have an excuse. But He did and I don’t.

His callouses made Him approachable and reproachable at the same time. The religious saw the callouses of a common man and determined He was not qualified because He was undistinguished. The broken saw them and decided He could be trusted because He understood.

Long before those palms held mud that opened blind eyes, they held hammers that fixed broken beams. Before they traced the tear-stained face of an outcast leper, they slid down the velvety grain of freshly-planed timber feeling for splinters.

Before those palms were held by the nails that fashioned deliverance, they held the nails that fastened doorways.

Those 28 silent years when Jesus lived in the ruts and routines of His life mean everything to the rub and reality of mine.

His palms gave credibility to His message: “The Kingdom of God is at hand.

As close as His callouses.

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