When You came back, Jesus, they recognized You by the marks. Those of us who didn’t believe it’s You knew it was when You the held up Your hands, and when You turned around and revealed the lattice pane of lacerations on Your back.
The thing is, You had wounds that made scars long before the studded whips went to work on Your body. Maybe Your deepest wounds didn’t come from the side-piercing spear, the nails, or the thorn punctures whose white remains freckle Your forehead.
The wounds that made the scars by which we recognize You were made on Thursday, too.
And while, in my days, I’m unlikely to be struck by a soldier or be put to death at the hands of the state, Your Thursday wounds are the ones I know really well. It’s the scars from my Thursday wounds that I search for on Your body, so that I can see for myself that there is life where that flesh died.
On Thursday, Your friends and family broke Your heart like You broke the bread when You were with them.
On Thursday, Your closest relationships were broken by fear, confusion, fatigue, goodbyes, and betrayal.
On Thursday morning, You left Bethany, saying goodbye to Your closest friends. You entered a city that never welcomed You, never understood You, and within 24 hours, would cry for the freedom of a murderer at Your expense.
On Thursday afternoon, You ate Your final meal with Your most beloved friends—friends who couldn’t love You back. You knew it. You loved them and washed them and taught them and prayed for them, and You knew—You knew—they would flee, deny, and betray You. And You arranged their sacred meal and brought them along with You into Your darkness anyway.
You took them to the Garden, and when You needed them most—when You needed them to pray for and watch over and be present with You, they slept. They slept.
In that Garden, You let the one who betrayed You—the one who gave up on You and sold You out—You let him kiss Your cheek. You let him close when You should have held him at arm’s length. Or never gone anywhere near him.
Despite all Your work and teaching with Peter, He still flew off the handle and attacked the soldier. That soldier was there to arrest You, and You restored his ear. Later, You helped Peter exchange his sword for the keys to Your church.
This is the Peter You warned. The Peter who didn’t know his own limitations—who, when foretold that he’d fall apart and deny Your friendship—dismissed Your warning and then still disowned You. After walking with You for three years, he disowned You three times.
There. There. I see the scars made by the rash and the careless. I see the scars made by someone who should have known better. By someone who had great promise and couldn’t keep his promises. I see the scars made by one of Your favorites.
On Your body I see the scars of false accusation. Of injustice. Of having Your voice taken from You. Scars of the wounds that come from Your right to defend Yourself. Of rejection and humiliation. Of being misunderstood and mocked for being who You are. Who You’ve always been.
These Thursday wounds were only the beginning.
These Thursday wounds made Sunday scars, but they were part of Friday’s plan that made new life possible every Monday thereafter.
It’s crazy to me that You chose to keep Your scars on Your after-Sunday body.
When we see your scars, our scars, we are reminded of wounds we both made and witnessed.
But perhaps when You see our scars, your scars, you are reminded of wounds you have both healed and reconciled.
Perhaps these new scars are part of our newness in You. Maybe they are part of Your mark that identifies Your people.
Perhaps they are how we’ll identify each other. Perhaps as we return to each other as You returned to Peter, in an upper room like the one where you broke bread with a broken heart, we’ll know you’re real and we’re real. We’ll know it because we can see everyone’s scars.
We’ll look at each other and see the wounds we made and sustained as we broke each other’s heart. And as we survey the scars, we’ll remember that you held out a pierced hand to Peter as you, in three different ways, assured him You knew he loved You. As You restored him in love unto Yourself.
Dear Jesus, make us new.
Let us see our Thursday wounds as Sunday marks of healing.
And let us begin our restoration work in your name on Monday.
Amazing, Jess. You have a real gift. What a great reminder of how we don't want Christ, how we deny him, how we have hurt others and Him–yet He relentlessly pursues us. –Ginger Bartrug
Amazing, Jess–you have a true gift. What a great reminder of how we don't want Christ, of how we deny Him, hurt Him and others–yet He relentlessly pursues us.