February 2nd, 2021 by Carl Buffington
“Unless I see the SCARS?”
Over the years I have wondered about Jesus’ scars. It is one way he is known, isn’t it?
It’s not the only way.
He is know when he breaks bread on the road to Emmaus,
The disciples recognized him by the miraculous catch.
But his scars are one way he is recognized. It’s like he is saying, “I am the crucified and resurrected one.”
Every moment in John’s gospel is carefully crafted and chosen, appearing for a purpose. Written 20 years after Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Where the other gospel writers focus heavily on sequential timelines and explicitly tying events to historical markers, John does not.
John’s gospel arrangement is thematic rather than chronological or historical.
For example, John focuses on the number seven:
John’s story telling is very intentional, “This is written that you may believe and in believing have life.”
John wants us to live into this part of the story Thomas, when he doubts that the man in front of him is really Jesus risen from the dead.
John wants us to live into the story.
Where do I live into it?
For me it was the scars.
The thing about Thomas is this: he wants to believe. He says he wants to see the scars.
And here is the amazing thing - Jesus comes to him!
Jesus returns to allow one individual to believe. Can you believe that?
He came to me one time around 15 years or so ago.
I was pondering the scars, and according to what I later wrote in my journal, the breath of God blew into the room.
The Holy Spirit filled the air and strangely I could hardly breath.
Did you know that happened to Daniel once too ?
How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.” - Daniel 10:17
I was lost in an emotional/spiritual whirlwind.
The question I had been pondering was why did he still have the scars? Why did the resurrected Christ need scars?
I was still wrestling with the death of our son, AJ. Someone, a fellow priest, had said to Barbara recently, “It’s been a while, you should be over it by now.”
That wasn’t like Jesus’ response to me that morning in my study:
Jesus was still holding on to Thomas as he turned his eyes toward me, and pointing to his side and showing his hands, I heard, “I know, ...I mind, and ...I will never forget nor dismiss your pain. I will forever be with you in this world. I know your pain.”
He won’t leave us—no orphans, I thought. And I got it.
Here’s the thing:
We are all wounded to one degree or another. No one escapes unscathed, and if they think they do, well that’s perhaps the worst wound because then there’s no need for the Healer, the one with scars who is with us.
We can ignore the wounds and live dysfunctionally to one degree or another, or we can embrace the scars - and receive and believe and live.
He keeps the scars so we can live amidst the pain, so, too, he lives amidst the pain.
Barb said to me after reading some of the notes and letters from my blessing drawer, that I was so lucky to have these. I agreed; what a blessing!
But really all these people are doing is telling about the story of God and his people with Jesus.
John is telling that same story about Thomas and how Jesus loved him, and how he loves you.
We are alive because he is alive.
The second week in March, as COVID was just walking on stage, Barb and I flew to Madison, Indiana - where I was rector for 9 years, and we went through the charismatic renewal there, as well as having our three children born there - to attend the funeral of dear friend.
After the service a woman came over to me and said, “You saved my life…”
I smiled and said, “How so?”
“You told me Jesus loved me,” she answered.
And I said, “And you received and believed.” In those days the Spirit was so ready to grab souls.
Our shared stories were living letters.
There is no doubt that all our other notes, as precious as they are, are simply glimpses of God’s love. They are sacraments, outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace.
Henri Nouwen once said when speaking of the severely challenged and broken folks that he was ministering with, “They teach us that we must learn to see the limited expressions of human affection as refractions of the unlimited love of God.”
That’s the beauty of God’s story as told in his people!
You may not have a blessing drawer, but when you step into God’s story by receiving and believing, and you begin to play your part, you will be able to read his heavenly letters and notes to you in this Book full of them (like the note to you about Thomas today).
And if you leave the door cracked, you might be surprised who might enter.
Why not write a couple blessing letters this week - one to someone the Holy Spirit nudges you to, and one to yourself from God your ABBA, or from your friend Jesus. Try it, even if you have never done anything like it. Listen to what the Holy Spirit says.
Did you miss Part 1 of this Blog? Read it here.