If you have scrolled through social media photos recently, you have probably seen someone making some kind of symbol with their hand – perhaps a sideways peace sign or two hands forming the shape of a heart. You may have noticed someone holding up a “rock on” gesture or an “I love you” sign at a concert. Athletes will also display various hand gestures towards the crowd after they have made some exceptional play. Yet, our generation is not the first to use hand signals to convey a message.
Have you ever noticed that images of Jesus also often depict Him flashing a unique hand signal? What is the hand gesture of Jesus that is often visible in works of art? What does the unique position of the fingers on Jesus’ hand in paintings, statues, and carvings represent?
Historians claim that the ancient Greek and Roman orators used a special code of hand gestures during their speeches known as chironomia, and these non-verbal signals were adopted by classical artists to convey a unique message. The Bible even alludes to the use of hand gestures as a form of secret communication in Proverbs 6:13.
Today, it seems that everyone from celebrities to sports figures, to teens, and even Jesus in modern art is expressing some kind of message with a hand gesture. What is the meaning of this hand gesture of Jesus? Well, let us find out..
Jesus ‘IC XC’ Hand gesture Meaning: The Significance of the Jesus Christ’s icxc Hand Signal
For centuries, artists have been deliberately positioning the hands and fingers of the figures in their paintings and sculptures to communicate a unique or deeper message. Historians claim that these hand-gestures were common and well-known, and therefore they were easily recognizable in works of art. So, what is the message the artist is sending through the hand gesture being made by Jesus?
The most common hand gesture of Jesus represented in paintings or other iconographic forms of art is actually an ancient form of sign language. You may have seen Jesus holding up his right hand with the index finger pointing upward, the ring finger and thumb touching, and the middle finger and pinky slightly curved.
There are countless sculptures and paintings which show Jesus holding his hand in this same manner with His index finger is raised to form the Greek letter I, the middle finger is slightly curved to form the letter C, next the ring finger and the thumb are crossed to create the letter X, and then the pinky finger is also slightly curved to form a second letter C. In some cases, the pinky and the ring finger appear to be crossed to form the letter X with the ring finger also curved to create the second letter C. Thus, the letters IC XC are an abbreviation for the Greek spelling of the name Jesus Christ (Ἰησοῦς Χριστός).
This abbreviation is known as a Christogram, and if you happen to be part of the Catholic or Orthodox faith, you may have observed a priest or cleric making this same gesture when offering a blessing in the name of Jesus. In John 14:13, Jesus said, “I will do whatever you askin my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” The Bible also proclaims that, “there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Thus, the artistic depictions of Jesus showing Him making this hand gesture are a reference to the significance of His name as the name above all other names.
The gesture is an identifying marker showing that the image in the painting or sculpture is Jesus. There are some works of art that show a saint making the same gesture, but in those instances, it is meant to symbolize the person proclaiming the name of Jesus as a blessing upon others.
Jesus ‘Thumb and two fingers up’ Hand Gesture Meaning: A sign of Holy trinity?
Through the centuries, some religious leaders have used the above-mentioned IC XC hand gesture to teach doctrinal truths about the nature and character of Jesus. First, the three fingers that are used to spell theIandXfor the name Jesus also represent the three Persons of the Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. John 1:18 says, “Noonehas ever seen God, but theoneand only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with theFather, has made Him known.”
Also, the position of the ring finger, which touches the thumb to form the letter X symbolizes the intersection of diving and human natures in the Incarnation of Jesus. The Bible confirms that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. Hebrews 1:3 says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s gloryand the exact representation of his being…” and Hebrews 2:17 tells us, “For this reason he had to be made like them,fully human in every way, in order that he might become a mercifuland faithful high priestin service to God,and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”
These two doctrinal truths of the Trinity and the Incarnation have also been connected to another common hand gesture of Jesus used in classical works of art.That is the “Thumb and two fingers up” hand sign.
In many art works of Jesus, the first three fingers of the hand are raised (the thumb, index, and middle fingers) and the last two (the ring finger and the pinky) are pointing down or folded into the hand as in Leonardo da Vinci’s depiction of Jesus as the Salvator Mundi(Savior of the World) painted in the year 1519.
In these images, the three raised fingers represent the three Persons of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Spirit. The two fingers pointing down depict the divine and human natures coming down to dwell with us through the incarnation of Jesus. John 1:14 tells us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of theoneand only Son, who came from theFather, full of grace and truth.”
God does warn us in the Ten Commandments to “not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.You shall not bow down to them or worship them” (Deuteronomy 5:8-9). Therefore, we should never assume that an image or icon of Christ has any divine power to bless us.
Acts 17:29 says, “we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.” According to Colossians 2:17, “These are a shadow of the things that were to come;the reality, however, is found in Christ.” Therefore, artistic images of Jesus merely attempt to convey a deeper message about His nature and character as the Messiah, the Son of God.
We should never worship the image, or bow down to the image, or pray to the image, or expect the image to bless us – only the Person of Jesus deserves our praise, worship, and adoration. He alone can bless us. Philippians 2:9-11 declares, “Therefore God exalted himto the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Dr. Richard Sams
Dr. Richard Sams is a top Biblical and Religious educator, who holds a Doctor of Ministry degree (Evangelism and Church Growth emphasis) from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. He has two masters’ degrees (Master of Divinity and Master of the Arts of Religion) from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg and also serves on the Pastoral Leadership Advisory Board of Liberty University. Moreover, Richard Sams has been serving as a pastor (Pastoral Ministry) at Calhoun Baptist Church in Calhoun, KY, from the past Nineteen years. He loves practically imparting biblical truths to the next generation, while occasionally conduct spiritual challenges on his facebook page facebook.com/MakeItCountChallenge
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What does the hand of Jesus mean? ›
The hand represents divine approval, and specifically acceptance of his sacrifice, and possibly also the storm mentioned in the gospels. The hand may be seen in the Ascension of Christ, sometimes, as in the Drogo Sacramentary, reaching down and clasping that of Christ, as though to pull him up into the clouds.What is the holy hand symbol? ›
Depicting the open right hand, an image recognized and used as a sign of protection in many times throughout history, the hamsa has been traditionally believed to provide defense against the evil eye.What does the Catholic hand sign mean? ›
In the Latin rite the sign is made in two ways: (1) the great sign, made with the five fingers outstretched (symbolic of the five wounds of Christ) on the forehead, breast, and shoulders, left to right, and (2) the lesser sign, made with the thumb alone on the forehead, lips, and breast.What is Jesus holding in his left hand? ›
Christ is shown holding the New Testament of the bible in his left hand, while making a gesture (possibly a blessing) with his right hand.What are the marks on Jesus hands? ›
Stigmata (Ancient Greek: στίγματα, plural of στίγμα stigma, 'mark, spot, brand'), in Roman Catholicism, are bodily wounds, scars and pain which appear in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ: the hands, wrists, and feet.What is the biblical significance of the hand? ›
"He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully." (Psalms 24:3-4.) Hands play an important role in some of the most important religious images, three of which encompass death, the Resurrection and the Restoration.Where is the hand of Jesus? ›
It was my second time to visit the Kamay Ni Hesus (Hand of Jesus) in Lucban in Quezon Province.What is the finger of God in the Bible? ›
The Finger of God, who is the Spirit, is the Divine Author of all God's written Word. “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) His fingerprints are all over Scripture.Why do Catholics cross their fingers? ›
Common usage of the gesture traces back to the early centuries of the Christian Church, and likely earlier. It is believed that in the early days of Christianity, people used it to signal their belief to others. Christians would also cross their fingers to invoke the blessing power associated with Christ's cross.Why do Catholics hand out palms? ›
Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem. As he rode into the city on a donkey, his followers spread palm branches at his feet and called him "Hosanna" or "savior." Palm branches were considered symbols of victory and triumph at the time.
Which hand do Catholics use to make the sign of the cross? ›
The sign of the cross probably originated with the early baptismal rights in which the minister would use a finger of his right hand to mark the candidates the forehead.What is the hidden hand of God? ›
The Hidden Hand of God is an effort between father and daughter to share a story of God's love and how the smallest act is God doing his work in the world.Who is the left hand of God? ›
The Left Hand of God is the story of sixteen-year-old Thomas Cale, who has grown up imprisoned at the Sanctuary of the Redeemers, a fortress run by a secretive sect of warrior monks in a distant, dystopian past.What does the left hand symbolize? ›
The left is traditionally associated with weakness, passivity and the lunar, female principle. It's important to note that these associations are from a Western viewpoint. In the East, the symbolic values of left and right are much different.Why is Jesus on the right hand? ›
Jesus and the Father
The “right hand” is seen as a place of honor and status throughout the biblical text. When the Bible makes statements that Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of the Father, it is affirming that he has equal status to the Father within the Godhead (Hebrews 1:3, 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22; Acts 7:55-56).
One, holy, catholic and apostolic.What does it mean if you have stigmata? ›
Stigmata represents a very real connection with the sufferings of Christ. Those who experience stigmata are those who have most fervently wanted it. They want to experience the sufferings of Christ so that they may associate with him and so that their sufferings will benefit others.What are God's two hands? ›
And his hands are stronger than yours. That's the whole basis of Christian confidence or assurance. Think about the two hands of Christ: In the one he holds an inheritance, and in the other he holds you.What is in God's right hand and left hand? ›
With his right hand, God comforts and consoles us in Christ. Preachers and teachers of the Word are an extension of God's right hand, giving forgiveness, eternal life, and peace with God. God's left hand works to make people outwardly good.What does the hand mean in Hebrew? ›
The usage of the word 'hand' in Hebrew (yadh) is associated with strength, authority and power. Thus the term 'hand' is associated with power in the hand.
Who is God's right hand angel? ›
Enoch was instrumental in establishing the pre-eminent place of Michael among the angels or archangels, and in later Jewish works he is said to be their chief, mediating the Torah (the law of God) and standing at the right hand of the throne of God.Who stuck their finger in Jesus hand? ›
Saint Thomas the Apostle puts his finger in the lance wound of the risen Christ.What does the powerful hand mean? ›
Historian Carla Wisch explains, "Within popular Catholicism, the Omnipotent Hand symbolizes the all-powerful hand of Christ. With its stigmata, the severed hand evokes the image of Jesus' hand nailed to the Cross.What is God's thumbprint? ›
In a perfect mathematical fractal, such as the famous Mandelbrot set — a.k.a, 'The Thumbprint of God' — this self-similarity goes infinitely deep: each pattern made up of smaller copies of itself and those smaller copies made up of smaller copies again, forever.Why do Catholics kiss their thumb? ›
They make a cross with their thumb and index finger; the thumb is the vertical bar placed over the index finger, which is the horizontal bar. By kissing their thumb, they are symbolically kissing the Cross of Jesus. It implies a humble acceptance of one's own cross in imitation of Jesus Christ.Why do Catholics cross their lips? ›
We cross our forehead so that the Word of God may be in our thoughts and purify our minds. We cross our lips so that our speech may be holy and incline us to share the Gospel with others. And we cross our hearts to invite God to strengthen our love for Him and others.Why do Catholics pray to Mary? ›
Catholics do not pray to Mary as if she were God. Prayer to Mary is memory of the great mysteries of our faith (Incarnation, Redemption through Christ in the rosary), praise to God for the wonderful things he has done in and through one of his creatures (Hail Mary) and intercession (second half of the Hail Mary).Why do Catholics touch their foreheads? ›
There are several interpretations, according to Church Fathers: the forehead symbolizes Heaven; the solar plexus (or top of stomach), the earth; the shoulders, the place and sign of power. It also recalls both the Trinity and the Incarnation.Why do Catholics wear red on Palm Sunday? ›
Red: The color of blood and, therefore, of martyrdom. Worn on the feasts of martyrs as well as Palm Sunday, Pentecost, Good Friday and celebrations of Jesus Christ's passion.How do you dispose of blessed palms? ›
Burn or Bury
However, sacramentals, such as palm branches, should be treated with special reverence. Therefore, the normal “rule of thumb” is that anything that has been blessed should be burned (and then the ashes buried) or simply buried.
Which hand to bless yourself? ›
Answer: The right hand, probably in part due to the fact that most people are right-handed, is traditionally the hand of blessing and greeting in many cultural settings, a convention found in Scripture and Tradition.Why do Catholics bless themselves with the sign of the cross? ›
It's meant to signify the sanctification of our thoughts, speech, and affections for God. Often a cross is signed upon the forehead during anointing or laying on of hands, usually with the thumb. Items such as the communion Bread and Wine are also signed, as well as other articles set apart for a sacred use.Do Christians do the sign of the cross? ›
The cross is thus a sign both of Christ himself and of the faith of Christians. In ceremonial usage, making a sign of the cross may be, according to the context, an act of profession of faith, a prayer, a dedication, or a benediction.What is the hand of God metal hand? ›
The Hand of God is an intricate, three-dimensional, copper sculpture of a woman's left hand. The Hand produces huge, hot flames through nozzles in each of the five fingers. Fire will fly from the tips of her fingers into the air, visible and thrilling to every audience member.What is the hand of God object? ›
Nicknamed the "Hand of God," this object is called a pulsar wind nebula. It's powered by the leftover, dense core of a star that blew up in a supernova explosion.Is the invisible hand the hand of God? ›
The social desirability of individual self-seeking activity is ensured by the “invisible hand,” that is, the hand of a god who has moulded us so to behave, that the quantity of happiness in the world is always maximised.Is the left hand evil in the Bible? ›
The Ancient Celts, for example, worshipped the left side, associating it with femininity and the fertile womb. But beginning with the appearance of Eve on Adam's left side in accounts of Genesis, the Christian tradition finds instances of the left side being pinned to immorality.What does the Bible say about your left hand? ›
Chrysostom: Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth, is said as an extreme expression, as much as to say, If it were possible, that you should not know yourself, and that your very hands should be hid from your sight, that is what you should most strive after.Who was the only left-handed man in the Bible? ›
Ehud, also spelled Aod, in the Old Testament (Judges 3:12–4:1), son of Gera, the Benjaminite, Israelite hero who delivered Israel from 18 years of oppression by the Moabites. A left-handed man, Ehud tricked Eglon, king of Moab, and killed him.What does the left and right hand mean spiritually? ›
This terminology is used by various groups involved in the occult and ceremonial magic. In some definitions, the left-hand path is equated with malicious black magic, while the right-hand path is equated with benevolent white magic.
What does the left side mean spiritual? ›
The left channel is the channel of our past emotions and memories. It carries the energy of our desires. The left energy channel also influences our sympathetic nervous system responses and helps regulate our emotional functioning.What does the left hand of God mean? ›
This is called God's “left hand kingdom,” or “kingdom of power.” Here God uses the law—rewards and punishments, carrots and sticks—to preserve humanity and permit us to enjoy His creation. God is working in both, but His methods and purposes differ.Which hand is the hand of God? ›
The right hand of God (Dextera Domini "right hand of the Lord" in Latin) or God's right hand may refer to the Bible and common speech as a metaphor for the omnipotence of God and as a motif in art.What is the holy arm of God? ›
“Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him.” When the Bible talks about God's right arm, it refers to His powerful, ruling arm—His justice, His holiness, and His strength. God is like that.What does the Bible say about left hand and right hand? ›
Chrysostom: Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth, is said as an extreme expression, as much as to say, If it were possible, that you should not know yourself, and that your very hands should be hid from your sight, that is what you should most strive after.