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What is the difference between the hand of the Son (Jn 3.35) and the hands of Jesus (Jn 13.3)?

At first sight there may appear to be little difference between the use of the singular "hand" in John 3.35 and the plural "hands" in John 13.3. Believing that there is nothing superfluous or coincidental in the record of the Word of God, we may look a little closer and enquire whether there is anything in the context of each passage to suggest a difference, however small it may be. Who among us accepting the verbal inspiration of Scripture would ever think there is no significance? We have a classic example of a significant difference between a singular word and a plural word in the use in connection with the Lord Jesus of the singular "shoulder" in Isaiah 9.6 and "shoulders" in Luke 15.5 – one shoulder enough to have future rule of the Kingdom resting upon it and yet two shoulders giving security to the Lord’s sheep!

In John 3.35 we are in a context which shows the fact that the Lord Jesus is not only the object of the Father’s love but that He is the operator of all things and the controller of the ultimate destiny of man – both believer and unbeliever. Among the "all things" of which our verse speaks is the salvation of the souls of men. The following words in v.36 show this. Salvation depends on Christ alone and no other. This may be the reason the singular "hand" is used to stress the singularity of the person of the Son in the work of salvation.

In John 13.3 John says, "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands…". It may not be too clear at first sight why this verse comes in here in connection with the Lord’s washing the disciples’ feet. But does it not emphasize the wonderful humility and love of the Lord Jesus who, in spite of the fact that all had been given into His hands, in wonderful condescension performs this humble task? He knew as the Son that in the future He will hold in both hands every office governmentally and eternally, yet He stooped down using both hands to act as a servant to His disciples – what an example and rebuke to us.

John J Stubbs

Can you help with the apparent discrepancy between the Matthew and Luke accounts of the healing of the centurion’s servant? In Luke 7.3 the centurion sent the elders of the Jews, but according to Matthew 8.5 he came himself.

Matthew, addressing his Gospel primarily to the Jews, presents Christ as the King. In ch.8 several incidents are related which illustrate that "Where the word of a king is, there is power" (Eccl 8.4). The authority of the King’s word extended over the ravages of sickness (vv.5-13); it had power over the representatives of Satan - "he cast out the spirits with his word" (v.16); then His word controlled the raging of the sea (vv.23-27).

As to the healing of the centurion’s servant, some have tried to explain the differences by making the two accounts relate to two different miracles. This is not the case. The centurion first sent messengers to the Lord Jesus and afterwards came to speak to Him in person. Matthew relates the personal interview, whereas Luke presents the message.

The account is told in more detail in Luke 7.1-10 where the centurion first sent to the Lord Jesus "the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant" (v.3) and then, when the Lord was not far from the house, "the centurion sent friends to him, saying...Lord...I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof" (v.6). It should be observed that the elders of the Jews had said, "That he was worthy for whom he should do this" (v.4).

In Matthew 8 we are told of the cleansing of the leper (vv.1-4); Israel is represented by the leper and the Lord Jesus touches him. In our incident (vv.5-13) faith touches Him and grace is shown to a Gentile. Then Peter’s wife’s mother, who was "sick of a fever" (v.14), is healed by His touch (v.15); here we see a type of what will take place after the fulness of the Gentiles has come in – this miracle is typical of Israel’s healing and raising up.

Only on two occasions do we read that the Lord Jesus "marvelled", once at the unbelief of His own countrymen (Mk 6.6) and here at the faith of this centurion (Mt 8.10). Only twice during His ministry did the Lord speak of "great faith". Once, here: "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel"; the other occasion was when the woman of Canaan took the place of a dog waiting for crumbs to fall from the table of its master, when the Lord said, "O woman, great is thy faith" (Mt 15.28).

David E West


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