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A Savior with scars

Photo by Grant Whitty on Unsplash

The final scene of the 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ” – that moment when (spoiler alert!) Christ emerged from the tomb early on that Sunday morning – gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.

We hear the sound of the stone rolling away as first slivers of light then full rays of bright sunshine flood the tomb. The Risen One slips out of the linens wrapped around him and sits up. He remains seated for a few seconds as his eyes adjust to the new dawn of his resurrected life.

Jesus rises to his feet and emerges from the tomb. Glory hallelujah — He is risen! He is risen indeed!

What always catches my eye as Jesus leaves the tomb is the enormous, open and healed wound on his nail-pierced right hand.

The brutal death that Jesus suffered on the cross left its mark on our Lord’s body. Having triumphed over the grave, Jesus could have risen with an unscarred body. But he did not.

In John’s Gospel, in response to hearing that the disciples had “seen the Lord,” Thomas declared, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). A week later, when Jesus appeared to the disciples again, he invited Thomas to do exactly what Thomas had said he wanted to do: “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe” (John 20:27).

Friends, I confess that there are times when I wish I could touch Jesus’ wounds. At those times, I watch that movie clip again because I need to see. At those times, I need to be reminded that Jesus still has scars from his wounds. Because I sure have scars from mine.

Several rounds of church trauma have left scars on my heart and my soul.

Broken relationships with family members and former friends have left scars on my heart and my spirit.

Cancer has left scars on my body and my mind.

COVID has left scars on my psyche and on relationships that cross political and social divides.

Racism, injustice, and inequity have left scars on every part of my life.

In my most tender moments of sadness, anxiety, fear and worry, I turn to God in prayer, offering these scars and wounds to Jesus, asking if he will touch my wounds, asking if I can touch his. In my imaginative prayers, I feel the tender hand of our healing Lord touch my scars, easing the ache. In those times, I weep and thank him for those nail-pierced hands.

Friends, because Jesus did not leave his wounds in the tomb when he was resurrected, we can learn to live with our wounds in this resurrected life we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. We can offer our wounds to be touched by the healing and soothing hands of our loving, risen, and still-wounded Lord whenever old aches arise. We can offer them as testimony to one another and to the world – testimony of how the power of God’s Spirit has enabled us to survive every challenge we have faced thus far – because we are still here.

As good as that final scene is, we can all agree that, in this case, the book is incomparably better than the movie. In John 20:29, Jesus offered us this blessing in his final words to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

That’s you, and that’s me. We haven’t seen Jesus or his scars in person yet, but we have come to believe. Blessed are you, dear one. Blessed are you.