The Touch of the Master’s Hand

In Sunday’s Gospel Mark recaptures a lovely gesture by Jesus; Peter’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with a fever and when Jesus arrived at Peter and Andrew’s house, they told him about her. Jesus went to her immediately, took her by the hand and lifted her up. He didn’t say – Poor woman – no, he took time at the end of a long day in the synagogue where he was teaching and healing to make this sick call, taking her by the hand and lifting her up.

This lovely human gesture of Jesus, how often do we not see these human hands reach out to the help of whoever may need it. Later in that same chapter Mark mentions the leper for whom Jesus felt sorry. Again he stretched out his hand and again touched him and said – Be cured.

Do you remember too, the time when Jesus came through the locked doors and stood among the frightened apostles, showing them his pierced hands and feet – those same hands so brutally pierced for you and for me.

Later again he would lift up his hands and bless them before ascending to his Father. I wonder was it from his Father that the human Jesus came to realise the power that he had in those hands.

Isaiah tells us how God spoke to the people of Israel when they ere frightened of their enemies – “I have taken you by my right hand and formed you” (Chap. 42) – this word formed is the same as used in Genesis (2:7) to describe the Creation of Adam – God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life. Michaelangelo immortalised this moment in his painting in the vault of the Sistene Chapel, of God the Creator reaching down to touch the hand of Adam with the tip of his finger. And again in Isaiah, “see I have branded you on the palms of my hands”. Later still the people tell God that they are clay and he is the potter, “we are all the work of your hands”.

And so when Jesus touched this good lady, we need not be surprised that fresh energy and life flowed through her enabling her to get up and serve them. Surely the touch of the Master’s hand.

As I pondered on this whole scene an old poem (author unknown) came to mind – The Touch of the Master’s Hand.

The auctioneer was trying to sell an old and battered violin – the bids were slow in coming and secretly he wondered if it was worth wasting time on it. And suddenly:

From the room far back, a grey-bearded man
Came forward, and picked up the bow.
And tightening the strings,
He played melodies so pure and sweet
As sweet as Angels sing

The people cheered; but some of them voiced:
“We don’t quite understand, what changed its worth?”
Swift came the reply – “The touch of the Master’s Hand”.

And many a man with a life out of tune
And battered and torn with sin.
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game, and he travels on.
He is going once, and going twice.
He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes and the foolish crowd
Can never quite understand
The worth of a soul, and the change that is wrought
By the touch of the Master’s Hand.