Monday, May 23, 2016

Even Jesus Had Scars

When I was first starting Highlands Church, in Paso Robles, our family had a little less means than we do now.  And so, like most young couples starting out, we would tend to try to "fix things" ourselves, rather than hiring people to fix them, or buying new things.  And so, I decided one Saturday afternoon to try to "fix" the box spring on the bottom of an old couch we had in the garage, rather than to buy a new one.  The box spring was extremely heavy and hard to hold, and required that I grip onto it and pull it by great force with a pair of pliers.  Long story short, the box spring slipped out of my hand and popped me in the eye - one millimeter from my eyeball.  My eye was gushing with blood, but by some miracle of God, the spring did not hit the center of my pupil, which would have made me permanently blind.  I rushed to the urgent care, where the doctor skillfully but disapprovingly sewed up the gash just to the side of my eyeball.  "You could have shot your eye out," he said (reminiscent of a line from one of my favorite movies, 'Christmas Story').  To this day I have a three centimeter scar just to the right of my right eye.

When I see my scar in the mirror each morning, it is a reminder to me of how lucky I was that Saturday afternoon.  It is a reinforcement of how fragile all of our human bodies are.  It is a memory of how much I have been through in my relatively short life.  Most of all, my scar is a testament to how God protected me from a near disaster, when, to be honest, I was doing something rather stupid.

Here's my big idea for the morning.

Even Jesus Had Scars

The end of the book of John tells us that on the Sunday of that first Easter, "Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' After he said this, he showed them His hands and side (he showed them his scars).  Later, Jesus showed himself and his scars to Thomas who had declared everyone that; Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side (touch Jesus' scars), I will not believe it.  Later Thomas does touch Jesus' scars (the only one in the Bible who we know for a fact ever did), and because of this, believed in Jesus.

Even Jesus Had Scars

This is extraordinary when you think of it.  Why did Jesus have scars?  I mean, after-all, since it was possible for Jesus to reverse the course of life and death itself, to be resurrected, it would seem that it would also have been possible to reverse the exterior clumping-up of white-blood immunity cells which created the masses of skin tissue on his body - to reverse his scars.

What purpose did Jesus' scars serve?  Jesus' scars showed the disciples and the world that Jesus was, in-fact, the same person before the resurrection as he was after the resurrection.  They showed the pain and the struggle that Jesus went through in order to be resurrected.  If Jesus went through pain and survived, then we can too.  They were evidence of Jesus' hardships.  Perhaps, in a strange way, Jesus was almost proud of his scars.  There is evidence of this in the text.  Showing his scars was one of the first things Jesus did after the resurrection.  After saying, "Peace" (Shalom), Jesus showed them his scars.  And why not?  Jesus earned them after all.  They were badges of honor for having vanquished the evil one and overcome death on the cross.

It is impossible to go through this life without a few scars, both on the outside and on the inside of our bodies.

I have a friend who served in Iraq and Afghanistan who suffers from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).  Every time he hears a loud bang from a construction site, or the backfire of the exhaust system on an old car, he jumps.  They are a flashback for him of the Buffalo bombs and the explosions that he experienced on a daily basis on the battlefield.  I asked him one day if he thought these startling reminders would ever get better - if his PTSD would ever go away.  He told me with a knowing sense of reality; "Yes, they will get better, but they will never go away."  These PTSD recurrences are his emotional scars.  And he bore them now, every day, with a mixture of fear and pride.

Just after World War I, the so called "War to End All Wars" - and one of the bloodiest and most traumatic in world history, a soldier named Edward Shilito, who fought on the battlefields of Europe and who bore many war wounds and scars, reflected on the scars of Jesus in a poem.  The poem is entitled; "O Jesus of the Scars".  Here it is:

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow,
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.
If, when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know to-day what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.
The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.[1]

Even Jesus Had Scars

And this fact reminds us that we, as people who also have scars, can carry on with faith, love and hope - and because of Christ, overcome all things!

All For Now,


[1] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 647). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.

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