Lay Your Hands On Me

Jon Bon Jovi, who has one of the best male voices on the radio, once sang a tune about the laying on of hands, but I think he was talking about something quite different than the subject of this topic. Growing up Southern Baptist in America, where people tend to have personal spaces and where my church was largely suspicious about anything that had the appearance of charismatism, the laying on of hands just didn’t happen.

But, when you think about those who have gone before us it seems that there must be something to a touchy-feely faith.

Think about the story of Issac, Rebekah, Jacob and Esau, with all the trickery that went into ensuring that Isaac laid his hands on Jacob, not Esau, so that the blessing would fall upon Jacob. Genesis 27.

Think of the interesting story of Jacob, now Israel, blessing Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, where he deliberately crosses his hands over so that his right hand is laying on the youngest son, Ephraim, even after Joseph tries to “correct” his father. Genesis 48.

The bible tells us that Joshua was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses laid his hands on him. Deuteronomy 34.

When the Levites were set apart for the priesthood, the entire family was brought before the rest of the nation of Israel so that they could lay their hands on the Levites. Numbers 8:5-11.

These are just a few OT examples. In the New Testament, it goes beyond just being interesting that Paul reminds Timothy to keep the gift of God aflame, a gift that came upon him through the laying on of Paul’s hands. 2 Timothy 1:7. There is the difficult passage in Acts 8 where Simon the sorceror wants the ability to give the Holy Spirit by laying on hands just like the apostles did it. And, in Mark 6, Jesus couldn’t do many miracles in his home town except “lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.”

These passages really challenge me to rethink the laying on of hands. But the passage that really puts me over the edge can be found in Hebrews 6. There the author of Hebrews made me want to write this post. It is there that he or she writes the following:

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.

Why is this so interesting? Because the author clearly considers the laying on of hands an elementary teaching about Christ. It is included in a list of “elementary teachings about Christ” with repentance, faith, baptisms, resurrection and eternal judgment. It is basic and foundational. It is primary. It is something upon which we build.

I suppose it is one of those things that I don’t need to understand how or why it works, but I need to believe in it nonetheless, and believing in it necessarily includes acting upon it. What do you think?

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