Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Scars That Heal, Scars That Don't

After Jesus was resurrected, He appeared to friends and disciples as a new man.  Not one that had gone through emotional and spiritual changes only, but also physical ones.  A few of them did not recognize Him even while interacting with and looking at Him suggesting that Jesus' physical body appeared differently.  Whether it was divinely reconstructed or showed all the signs of a body healing from the strikes of a staff, the piercing of nails, swords and thorns, and lashes of a whip, I don't know.  What I do know is that some of Jesus' scars did not heal.

Despite the fact that the power of the Almighty God resurrected Jesus, the one who laid down His life willingly, He (God) did not remove all the scars from His anointed one's body.  This seems strange at first.  When I imagine God restoring life to Jesus, or to any of us when all of Creation is restored, I imagine being totally new and also free from any deformities or flaws.  I imagine crippled friends being able to walk, I imagine friends who suffer from chronic pain being able to move freely, I imagine depressed friends being able to laugh.  So why wouldn't God remove all of Jesus' deformities, the burdens of His mortal life?

"Doubting Thomas"
Carl Heinrich Bloch, 1881
I am guessing, but it is only a guess, that Jesus was not completely deformed in His resurrected body.  Before his crucifixion, Jesus was beaten beyond the point of looking human, but since his disciples and Mary Magdalene didn't cry out in dismay or disgust at His disfigurement, I am guessing He looked like a human again.  But I know (not a guess) that the scars or holes where the nails and sword pierced His body did not disappear.  Thomas put his hands in them to prove to himself (and all of us) that it was truly the resurrected Jesus standing before him.

So why did these scars remain?  This is what I think (another guess).  The scars that remained, whether just those mentioned in Scripture or more, were not "healed" because they were part of Jesus' "new man."  Though on earth scars are often ugly and painful, in God's restored order they can be like a crown of jewels.  Jesus' scars displayed the glory of God working through His life.

I believe earthly burdens will be finally laid down.  But I also believe that the growth and sacrifice we experience on earth, however painful it might be here and now, will not be discarded but will be celebrated for what it truly is - the glory of God.  We all have scars, and I rest assured that we will be fully healed from every last one whether it is today or in the days to come, but God is the one who knows which scars are to be healed and which are to be worn as a crown.
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