There are some things we’ve been spending a lot of time with recently in my home. In the last eight weeks, our whole lives have been entirely up-ended, turned upside down, wrung out, crushed and left alone. It has felt like being left alone to drown in a pool of your own blood.
I’m not being dramatic about that. This has felt like we’ve been gutted and left for dead. I refuse to pretty this up and smooth it over. What has occurred in our lives as a family has been utterly devastating. We have suffered emotionally, physically and spiritually. And that suffering has come at the hands of people who claim to follow Jesus, religious people.
There’s a thing about pain that you may not know that I’m learning. I mean, I kind of knew this before. It’s not like this is the first time in my life I’ve experienced pain. But what pain and loss and betrayal and abandonment have taught me is that it changes you.
When you sit in the pain, it changes you.
It changes how you sleep, how you get out of bed, how you relate to your spouse and your children, how you feel about yourself…and the list goes on. Pain is foggy. What I mean by that is that it confuses things. You can’t see clearly, think clearly. It’s hard to have clarity and focus when the waves of pain seem to crash over you endlessly. When this is what’s going on in your life and those waves are crashing over you, it feels like it’s always high tide.
When you sit in the pain, it changes you.
We’ve been seeing a counselor recently. I remember the days when I used to think that people who went to counseling were weak or soft or whatever. Now, I’m of the firm opinion that counseling is so beneficial in some situations that you’re a fool if you don’t find someone who can give you a listening ear and give good, godly counsel. So I’m not ashamed to say we’ve been seeing a counselor.
In one of our sessions something came up that I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. I remember saying to the counselor something like, “They say time heals all wounds.” He laughed and said, “That’s bullshit.”
And I was so grateful to him for saying that. ‘Cause that’s what I was thinking. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. You just get used to living with it. Then he started talking about Jesus. And something stuck in my heart and now I wanna talk about it with you.
In John’s gospel, in chapter 20, we find a remarkable story. Verses 19-29 contain this story. I won’t quote the whole thing here; go read it for yourself. Do that right now, go read John 20:19-29. Look at verse 20 for a second. Now read verses 24-27.
Let’s talk about this for a minute. Our counselor brought this out a bit when he said that if he had been Jesus, he’d have been resurrected with a perfect body. No nail holes or a giant gaping hole in his side.
But that’s exactly how Jesus was known to his disciples. They knew he had really been raised because he was standing there right in front of them with holes in his hands, feet and side. Can you imagine this for a second?! Surely they thought they were seeing a ghost. But no, Jesus was like, “Nope, I’m really real guys. Thomas, put your finger through this hole in my hand. Stick your hand in my side. It’s really me.”
Do you think Thomas had the stones to actually stick his finger into Jesus’ hands and sides? I’m not sure if I’d have wanted to hug Jesus or run away. So what?
Here’s my point. Jesus has scars. He still carries the marks of betrayal and beating and arrest and execution, all at the hands and the will of the religious people of the day. Why? Why would Jesus still have holes in him?
Because his scars matter.
Your scars matter.
My scars matter.
Our scars matter because they draw us closer to Jesus. In his scars we see that all our suffering and all our pain matters to Jesus. He has been there. He has gone before us. His scars show the depth of his love for us. Don’t hide your scars, brothers and sisters. He can redeem those and use them for your good and his glory if you’ll let him.
Don’t hide your scars, brothers and sisters. They make you look like Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria!
The hush of early dawn.
Soft voices whisper as though they will disturb. Mary, heavy with grief, lack of sleep, fear…eyes bloodshot from crying; confusion wars with grief. ‘I don’t understand,’ she whispers to herself. She looks quickly to her left at Mary, who walks beside her quietly, eyes down, staring at the dusty, dim path. She looks up briefly, making eye contact.
Despair, pain, loss pours from her eyes along with her tears. “What are we to do now? Where should we go? I don’t know what to do.”
Soft light, leaves visible, a soft breeze picks up. She stops and shifts the basket of spices to her other arm, preparing herself for the reality of what lies ahead.
A closed tomb. A cold stone blocking her view of the body of her Lord.
They walk around the bend in the path and stop in their tracks, frozen.
Soldiers lie strewn about on the ground, unmoving, unconscious. ‘What has happened?’ As her eyes pass over the soldiers, she looks to the tomb…
The stone is rolled away from the entrance. Questions race through her mind in a split second, rushing thoughts, fear grips her…”What have they done,” she whispers.
Flooding the wooded area, light so powerful it crushes her to the ground, blinding her, pushing her down with is brightness. She hears Mary gasping in fear, face down on the ground next to her. She strains to see…movement. Dimly, stirring in the brilliance of stunning bright, she sees two figures.
To describe their appearance would be impossible. Covered in light, at once terrifying and beautiful, two men stand before her. One speaks, his voice like a clear trumpet, “Whom do you seek?” She looks quickly at Mary, who kneels to her left, face down. She cannot speak for fear. The voice sounds again, “Whom do you seek?”
She looks up, holding her hand above her eyes to shield them. “My Master. I come to see Jesus’ body.” What sounds like a chuckle comes from the light, a sound of merriment such as she has never heard.
“Why do you look for the living among the dead,” the voice asks? She squints into the light and, even as the question registers in her numbed mind, the voice speaks again; a triumphant pealing sound as the voice changes pitch, growing deeper, brighter, solid.
“He is not here! He has risen, just as He said.”
The words hang in the air, seeming to take on life, a weight, a heaviness.
What?! What does that mean? Is it true? Can it be true?
She tries to look into the tomb and looks up to the light, only to realize that it is suddenly gone and she is looking directly into the risen sun. Silhouetted by the sun, a man stands before her. She is temporarily blinded and shields her eyes again.
“Who are you? What have you done with him?” Her voice sounds strangely loud, cracking the sudden silence of the morning.
The man speaks, a voice that she knows at once…the pitch of the voice, the inflection of her name she has heard before, a familiar tenderness.
Her eyes adjusted, she looks into the face of Jesus. Suddenly panting, tears streaming down her cheeks, she stares at Him in stunned wonder. Surely she must be dreaming. ‘Wake up!’ Her mind shouts at her. It seems as an eternity but is a mere second that her mind races.
She reaches for His hand that hangs by His side…”Master,” her voice trembles. Even as she stares into His face and reaches for His hand, she sees that familiar smile.
“You must not touch me yet. Go and tell the others, Mary. I will meet the brothers in Galilee.”
And then He is gone.
Running, shouting, weeping, she and Mary sprint into the city, stopping to hug each other in incredulous joy. Running into the house they were all staying in, Mary burst into the main room. Peter and John were sitting on the dirt floor, staring into nothing, vacant eyes heavy with sorrow.
“Peter! Peter, I saw Him. He’s alive!”
Peter looks up, his eyes dead and lifeless, confused.
"Slow down, I can’t understand you when you shout. What did you say?”
She sees John look up. “I saw Jesus. He’s alive. He told me to tell you to meet him in Gali…”
She is almost knocked to the ground as Peter and John bolt out the door. She follows them as fast as she can, falling behind.
Peter is first to the tomb but stops short, falling to his knees before the stone that was the door, weeping, holding his face in his hands. John runs past him and into the tomb.
She watches as Peter gets up and stoops to enter the tomb as she approaches the opening and stands watching. Peter and John stand in front of the slab where they laid His body, staring at the cloths used to wrap him.
“It’s true. It’s all true.”
Peter’s voice whispers into the quiet of the empty tomb. John begins to weep softly as Peter wraps him up in his arms, moving them both toward the opening.
Peter walks outside, staring up into the sky, lifting his arms up as if to touch the blazing sun.
“Come, John. We must tell the others. We have to go. He said to meet Him in Galilee.”
There is no soft whispering as they leave the tomb this time, no shadow of grief, no heavy hearts.
Only joy, laughter, wonder and breathless anticipation…