And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. Luke 24:50-51
Gadzooks! Have you ever heard this exclamation of amazement? Those who study such slang expressions say that this word came from the old English words, “God’s hooks.” God’s hooks were the nails that held Jesus to the cross, and Gadzooks came to identify not only the nails but the wounds in our Savior’s hands and feet; Gadzooks was slang—likely used somewhat irreverently—for God’s wounds. God’s wounds should of course be referenced with reverence, for they wondrously show what Jesus willingly endured for mankind’s salvation. They are the wounds that identify the fact that He was “hooked” to the cross not so much by the nails but by His love for us.
The Holy Spirit through David magnified God’s wounds in the powerful Psalm that predicted specifics about our Lord’s crucifixion: …they have pierced my hands and feet [22:16]. God’s piercing wounds are also magnified in the unbelievable prediction of Isaiah 53: But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities [53:5]. God’s wounds mark the payment for our sins.
Jesus’ crucifixion is described by the eye-witness Apostle, John, who explains that one of Zechariah’s prophecies is being fulfilled at the cross. Though John is connecting this prophecy especially to Christ’s pierced side, yet it also fittingly describes the wounds in our Lord’s hands and feet: And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn [12:10]. They will look upon God whom they have pierced…God’s wounds.
When Jesus rose from the dead He gave evidence of His resurrected body by showing to the disciples His wounds—God’s wounds. These were the wounds that killed the Son of God; but then these are also the wounds that indicate this same man who died, rose from the grave: See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have [Lu 24:39]. Now, as described in the final book of Holy Scripture, we behold the Sacrificed Lamb, who, though standing alive and victorious, still appears to have the wounds of His death: And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain [5:6]. Indeed, this same “slain lamb” will return, as also prophesied in the Revelation of John: Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him [1:7]. The world will see the wounds of God, the piercings, by which the world slew Him. The unbelieving world will wail at this appearance, but those hidden in these wounds will rejoice.
As we celebrate Christ’s ascension, we consider it this week from the record of Saint Luke: And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. Observe from this record that Jesus raised His hands in blessing. To raise these hands showed forth God’s wounds. Not only did Jesus speak words of blessing, but His holy (also holey) hands identified the source of such blessing: He was pierced to death for our transgression, and the wounds seen on the living Christ indicate His resurrection. The primary source of mankind’s blessings—Christ’s death and resurrection—are seen in those loving hands. Realize also that while He was blessing—while His wounded hands were raised toward the disciples—He was parted from them. He did not lower His pierced hands while He faded from visible presence, but He kept them open in blessing, and this is how we should still think of Jesus; He continues to point God’s wounds in our direction. Fittingly, preaching centers in Christ-crucified, and the Sacraments continue to show forth His death until He comes. For it is in God’s wounds that we find blessing—now and into eternity.