“On the evening of that day (this is the evening that Jesus rose from the dead), the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.”
The disciples were locked in a room…
Hiding in fear…
The disciples locked themselves in a dark room and possibly their hearts were dark rooms, locked in unbelief and closed up in fear. John says they were “afraid of the Jews.” In other words, they are afraid of the religious establishment. They are afraid that those wounds that showed up on Jesus just might show up on them, physical wounds, but not just physical wounds…
Maybe they were afraid of exposing the wounds they’d already received because they’d been shamed along with Jesus that day. They’d been horrifically disappointed in Jesus that day. And on top of all that, they realized they had failed, miserably. Jesus said this night “you will all fall away because of me,” and they had.
You know in the Old Testament a man crucified is a man cursed, a man under a curse. In Leviticus 21, God tells Moses that no man who has been maimed may approach the altar in the sanctuary and then he specifies in verse 19, “no man who is wounded in the hand or the feet.” And that would include Roman nails being driven through your flesh and the wood in the act of crucifixion, I would suppose.
They, too, were responsible for those wounds on the body of their Lord, and that was a wound in them, a self-inflicted wound, but a wound nonetheless—the worse kind perhaps.
In most cultures, wounds or scars are a great shame. You know anthropologists have recently written several books about how societies naturally put blame on the wounded–that is the victims. Sociologists call the phenomenon scapegoating, so naturally, we hide our wounds. They make us vulnerable.
And yet it is here, in this place of darkness, fear, and shame that Jesus shows up:
“He stood among them…”
And He spoke into the midst of their pain and darkness: He said, “Peace be with you” …
Their hiding, locked in fear couldn’t keep Jesus and his relentless love for them out, and according to Scripture, even the gates of hell cannot prevail against Jesus and His church.
So Jesus is standing among them; He has spoken, “shalom” to them. But even so, they struggle to believe He is there. Even at this point, they weren’t really quite sure that they could see Him. In fact, Luke says they thought He was a ghost.
Do you ever feel like that? That Jesus is just a ghost? Do you ever feel like he doesn’t really know, He doesn’t really understand because He’s not really there—because He didn’t really rise from the dead… a ghost!
And what did Jesus do next?
“When He had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.”—John 20:20
Luke records that He also showed them His feet. In other words, Jesus showed them His wounds… In a little bit, He will, even show Thomas His wounds and have him put his hand right in it. Wow! that’s pretty vulnerable.
Each one isolated in a chamber of fear. Floating in the outer darkness upon a sea of despair. And He shows them His scars. Why?
John records that “it was then that they saw the Lord.” It was then that they really saw Him. It was then that they recognized Him.
We’re identified by our wounds.
We are identified by our scars.
You know a lot of bad guys are identified by their scars—like Scarface, Darth Vador—those kinds of guys—and they’re bad because they hang on to their wounds and resentment and shame. But Jesus is also identified by His wound, His scars. He offers them in love. When wounds are surrendered, we connect at the point of our wounds.
Jesus knows what it’s like to go to hell–to your hell. And He’s lived to tell about it. His wounds validate His story, and that’s really good news! But it’s also challenging news because it means you can’t lock yourself in a dungeon of resentment and shame saying, “Nobody knows, nobody understands” because He knows; He understands. Jesus knows.
And what is the disciples’ reaction to Jesus’ vulnerability and sharing His scars?
“Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.”—John 20:20b
Yes, His wounds convict us…but then they cleanse us. They are the revelation of love and when we see them we realize that we really have not loved very much. And we have broken the body of love with every sin. They convict us, but then they cleanse us because Jesus doesn’t resent the wounds. He surrenders the wounds to us. And so from those wounds flows a fountain of lifeblood, life, love, mercy—and it cleanses us.
Listen to Isaiah 53:5 “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities, upon him was the chastisement that brought us shalom, and with his stripes, with His wounds, we are healed.”
John writes, “We love because he first loved us.”
Jesus said, “The one forgiven much, loves much.”
Stare at His wounds and you will love much, for you will see that you’ve been forgiven much. If you think that you’ve earned that forgiveness, it’s not forgiveness. If you think you have to pay for that forgiveness, it’s not forgiveness. And if you think it doesn’t cost Him, well you really haven’t seen His wounds.
Stare at His wounds and He will use them to create you in His image with grace. And don’t be afraid, He doesn’t resent the wounds. From the foundation of the world, He forgives the wounds—for the love of you—in order to create you in His image.
Remember that Eve is created from the wound in Adam’s side. Jesus is the Ultimate Adam and we are His Bride. We are created at the wound in Jesus’ side.
Now, look at what happens after the disciples have “seen.”
“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.” As the Father has sent me, even so, I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.”—John 20:21-23
Jesus breathes on His disciples as God breathed on the clay in Genesis 2 in the Garden.
We are made in God’s image through the wounds of Jesus. There is nothing more powerful in all creation than the wounds on Christ’s body and the brilliant scarlet fountain that flows from them. Because Jesus offers the wounds in Love, the victim is the victor. The scapegoat is the slaughtered lamb, standing on the throne of God Almighty. His wounds connect us, convict us, cleanse us, and create us.
And now, empowered by His breath, Jesus is sending them out into the world to forgive sins. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, the propitiation not only for our sins, but the sins of the whole world, says John, and He commanded His disciples to forgive. Jesus in sending them out to forgive sins, but forgiving sins is hard. Do you know why? Because it is a wound. To forgive is to be wounded and then refuse retaliation. To forgive is to give in advance of retaliation so there is nothing to retaliate for.
In World War II, a doctor leaned over a horrific wound on the side of a young soldier. As the soldier came to, the doctor said, “I’m sorry son, you’ll live, but I have to tell you, you have lost your arm.” The soldier grinned, and he said, “I didn’t lose it, I gave it.”
You see? This man for–gave it in a great cause. And so his wound would not be a scar of shame, but a badge of glory. You know all the wounds on the body of Christ are badges of glory, and they have power beyond your wildest imagination.
Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” We’re to have the same wounds in the same cause as Christ.
You see? We actually are Christ’s Body. And when we give Christ our wounds, they become His wounds and nothing is more powerful, nothing is more glorious than the wounds on Christ’s body, the wounds of our Lord.
“In this world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer,” said Jesus, “for I have overcome the world.”
This devotional was prepared by Kimberly Weynen, Peter Hiett’s assistant. It is a compilation of excerpts from Peter’s sermon titled “Scars” and devotional thoughts from Kimberly. To read, watch or listen to the sermon in its entirety click here: “Scars”