by Jennifer DiFrancesco
Jesus, lift your hands and share us a blessing with us this day. As we read this text, open our eyes to see new meaning, open our ears to hear echoes of stories long ago, and open our hands to share your blessing with others. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 24:44-53 (Common English Bible)
Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Law from Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. He said to them, “This is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. Look, I’m sending to you what my Father promised, but you are to stay in the city until you have been furnished with heavenly power.”
He led them out as far as Bethany, where he lifted his hands and blessed them. As he blessed them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. They worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem overwhelmed with joy. And they were continuously in the temple praising God.
“[Jesus] led them out as far as Bethany, where he lifted his hands and blessed them.”
As I read this text, the part that grabbed me was Jesus lifting his and blessing his disciples. The word “bless” means to “speak good things” upon or over. In the First Testament, we first see or experience blessing when God appeared to Abraham and told him that he would be blessed and through him all the earth would be blessed. This verbal action is an empowering action. These blessings pop up all over scripture as a reminder of who and whose we are.
That day when Jesus lifted his hands and blessed his disciples, the same ones who lock themselves up in a hidden room and flee in fear, they discovered the courage and strength to return to Jerusalem. And they didn’t just return, but they do so with great joy, praising God.
I wonder if seeing Jesus’ hands and hearing his voice was a reminder of all the past blessings Jesus gave.
~A leper came to Jesus, pleading, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touches him and says, “I will; be clean.” And it was done.
~Jairus came to Jesus and begged: “My little daughter is dying. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” When Jesus arrived, the girl was already dead, but Jesus took her by the hand and said, “Talitha cumi,” “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And she did.
~A blind man was brought to Jesus, his friends asking Jesus to touch him. Jesus spit on the man’s eyes, laid hands on him–twice–and the man saw clearly.
~Jesus spent a long day teaching the crowds. It became late and they grew hungry. Jesus took five loaves and two fish in his hands. He spoke a blessing over them, and with the food fed more than five thousand people.
We are reminded that there is power in Jesus’ touch and in his words. Just as there is power in our spoken words and our actions.
Blessing can be:
an arm around their shoulder to give guidance
an embrace in moments of disappointment
a pat on back when they’ve tried their best
a steadying hand in moments of crisis
whispers of encouragement in their ear
tucking in at night when they feel surrounded by darkness
a kiss on the cheek as a reminder that they are beloved.
And while some would like to think kids are the only ones who need blessings, there are many on our streets, in our neighborhood, in our churches wanting and needing blessing.
Questions to Spark Conversation
~The first part of the text is filled with words about prophesies being foretold and fulfilled, but Jesus tells the disciples that they are to be witnesses. What is a witness? What might you testify to or about Jesus to your friends?
~Imagine you are one of the disciples there that day; wonder aloud what it might have felt like to hear Jesus’ words and see his hands. What do you think Jesus said?
~What stories of blessing from the Bible do you remember or know?
Have each person in your family write a blessing for one another or write a family blessing together. This blessing doesn’t just need to be words, perhaps part of the blessing is a hug, holding hands, or whatever your family or child thinks appropriate.