OUR SCARRED SAVIOR
When Thomas said “yes” to Jesus’s invitation to follow him, I’m not sure he could anticipate all that he would see. He experienced a lot while doing life with Jesus. But what may have been the most impactful thing he laid his eyes on were Jesus’s scars.
Isn’t it weird that resurrected Jesus still had scars on him? He was still human enough to eat fish, but he also walked through walls and locked doors and was just different enough that those who knew him well, did not recognize him. What Jesus looked like after he came out of the tomb is still a bit of a mystery.
Also, on a very shallow level, I don’t know if I like that Jesus had scars. And here’s why. I relish the thought of having a young, strong, restored and resurrected body when I get to heaven. But if Jesus’ resurrected body still retained his scars, will mine?
Furthermore, at this point in His story, Jesus is the conqueror and victor. And shouldn’t he look like one? Remember how his face and clothes glowed and sparkled on the Mount of Transfiguration? Remember how the dove came down and God’s voice enveloped him at his baptism? That’s what I am envisioning the Resurrected Jesus to look like. And permanent marks of suffering just don’t fit with that.
But Jesus’s scars were important. They opened the disciple’s eyes and grounded them in the midst of their grief and fear. When they saw the wounds from the nails and spear, Jesus’s identity was confirmed — this was the Jesus they had known.
He didn’t say their names like he did with Mary Magdalene, he didn’t break bread like he did with the men on the road to Emmaus. In that locked room with his disciples, he pointed out his scars. And that sight is what turned uncertainty into joy. I don’t think they could fully grasp the overwhelming reality of defeated death in that moment. But they could grasp the reality of His scars and the reminders of what came before.
Our Savior welcomed the presence of scars on his glorified body. That is the opposite of what we do, isn’t it? Don’t we often want to leave our scars behind, be they physical, emotional or psychological. We’d rather erase them as well as the pain and suffering that caused them.
Maybe Jesus welcomed the scars because of what they ensured. There can be no resurrection without crucifixion. There is a victory only because of a struggle. There is no atonement without a sacrifice. And new life only comes when we spiritually die to self.
Maybe He welcomed the scars because they reminded him not first and foremost of his great suffering, but rather they reminded him of his great love for us.
And maybe He welcomed them because he knew we would need them, that we would need to be reminded that our scars are an important part of who we are. Our scarred Lord is the Savior and Leader of a scarred community. And just like the sight of Jesus’s scars comforted and strengthened his disciples, the sight of our scars make us more approachable, and I believe will comfort and strengthen the people we are surrounded by.
Lord, help us to understand scars–the power and sweetness of the crucifixion scars that remained on your body, as well as the scars from our own healed wounds. May you continue to use them for your glory!