This is the message I delivered at my church on April 15, 2018.
It is based on the gospel of Luke 24:36-49
Years ago there was a story about a judge in Yugoslavia who had an unfortunate accident. He was electrocuted when he reached up to turn on the light while standing in the bathtub. His wife found his body sprawled on the bathroom floor. She called for help. Friends and neighbors, police, the whole shebang showed up. The judge was pronounced dead and taken to the funeral home. The local radio picked up the story and broadcast it all over the airwaves.
But—in the middle of the night, the judge woke up. He realized where he was, and rushed over to alert the night watchman, who promptly ran off, terrified. The judge’s first thought was to phone his wife and reassure her. But he got no further than, “Darling, it’s me,” when she screamed and fainted.
He tried calling a couple of the neighbors but they all thought it was some sort of sick prank and hung up on him.
Finally, he was able to call a friend in the next town who hadn’t heard of his death. This friend was able to convince his family and other friends that he really was alive.
(Bruce Larson, LIVING BEYOND OUR FEARS)
Some things are just very hard to believe – so it is with our story today —
In our Gospel lesson the risen Jesus finally appears in the midst of all eleven disciples, bidding them peace and demonstrating that he was not some sort of ghost but rather he had been restored to life by the power of God.
Jesus told them to touch him – That he was not a ghost –
He was real and he was alive!!
When Jesus first appeared, we are told the disciples were frightened. He startled them, they were unprepared for it. They just couldn’t believe that Jesus could be there so they were afraid. So he showed them his hands and feet. It was still too much, it seemed too good to be true – Jesus couldn’t win! But Jesus was determined that they would believe. It wasn’t until Thomas touched his scars that they came to realize the truth – Jesus took their unbelief, accepted them where they were, understood their hesitation and met it with sympathy and patience.
Jesus shows them his hands and feet and his scars told his story.
We take a look at our own scars and every one of them has a story, some are painful reminders of surgeries, illnesses or accidents – others are funny, some are significant while some are filled with grief, shame or guilt. I’m guessing everyone has one – if not several of them. I have a scar on my side from when I was a toddler, i grabbed a boiling pot of water off the stove and burned myself, I got an infection and was in a coma for three days nearly dying. I have another scar on my knuckle where my brother hit me with a mop after I pulled down some of the army guys he had duct taped to his bedroom ceiling. And there is a scar on my neck from the time my cat tried to jump over me while I slept and missed! Your scars tell the story of your life.
In today’s bible verse, we hear the story of Jesus and his scars. How he showed up at God’s door broken, bleeding and wounded. The nails on his hands and feet, the spear in his side – all left a mark! Scars that last forever, even now.
Thomas touched those scars and believed! Jesus wanted Thomas and the disciples to see those scars and to understand the hope that they represented. It is through those scars that we are saved. When Jesus said to Thomas, put your finger here, see my hands? Give me your hand, place it on my side – Jesus was telling his scar story. His scars preach a powerful sermon. The scars of Jesus told a story that Thomas and the disciples could not deny. They represent the fact that God loves us, no matter what – scars, wounds and all!
Our scars, our wounds, our brokenness all tell our own personal story. A story that is unique to us and sets us apart, yet in sharing our stories with others, brings us closer together. We discover that we are not alone, that others have suffered and overcame. That we have all been wounded and that we have all been healed.
We live in a world of perceived perfection – we try to pretend that we live in unmarked bodies. We see those on television and social media trying so hard to be seen as perfectly put together, hiding all their imperfections. But we soon come to realize that we are all wounded, every one of us! We are all dealing with messy emotions in this scary, sometimes uncertain world.
The thing is, Jesus didn’t die to take away our scars ~ our scars mark the place where a wound was healed. And because we are believers … our scars now tell a new story. A story that includes Jesus and reminds us that we are forgiven, we will be healed, and we are welcome at God’s table no matter what scars we have or what stories they tell.
Jesus still bears the wounds of his experience here on earth. The resurrection didn’t remove his wounds – they stand as a reminder that God is with us in all things, especially the painful, destructive, scary, troubling times. They show us the pain he and the disciples experienced at the time. The arrest and persecution, the fear and doubt, the tears and remorse, the abandoning of Jesus and watching him die. Their emptiness, loneliness, hopelessness – the disciples were all wounded and so are we. But our faith is restored when we acknowledge Jesus as the risen son of God.
However sometimes things get in the way of our faith…
Fear is certainly one of them. There is a great deal of fear in the world. People are afraid of losing their health, their wealth, their loved one. Some people fear change, or rejection, or God. Fear can make it hard to develop a deeper level of faith.
Some people have a difficult time believing that God loves them just as they are. Some people look at their scars and wounds and weaknesses and think that there is no way God would consider them special. A loving relationship is just too hard to believe.
But God understands – he accepts us all right where we are at. Just as Jesus came to the disciples knowing exactly what they needed to believe, God continues to come to us through the works of others and power of the holy spirit.
Sometimes our faith is deepened, or we bring others to faith by sharing the story of times we were wounded, when we tell them how we got our scars. It can be hard to share, it’s hard to tell the truth about our lives and admit that we were hurt. I can be uncomfortable and risky and yet – there are times when we share our vulnerabilities that we experience transformative moments. Moving from fear to joy, just as the disciples did when exposed to the scars of Jesus. Instead of hiding our scars, we can say, look and see where God has healed me, where God redeemed me. In doing so we remember how Jesus took the fall for us, suffered on the cross, was crucified, died and rose again. He is the one who knows our pain and who accepts us for who we are.
Jesus has a beautiful scar story to tell – a story of hope for all of us.
Adapted from sermons by Christi Brown and Pastor Davis at tarsusdarkstar.
Here is my sermon on “The butterfly effect” I hope you enjoy it.
Do you hear it? Are you listening? After reading this post … Put down the cell phone or step away from the computer. God wants to talk to you. Sit quietly and feel Gods love. Sit quietly and feel the peace of the moment. Release all negative thoughts and emotions and instead ask who loves me and who do I love. Give your troubles to God, let him handle them. Give your health issues to God. Give your financial burdens to God. Lift up your relationship hurdles to God. Sit in a state of peace, a state of joy, a state of gratefulness for your blessings.
If you take time each day to do this you will be amazed at the difference. People will come into your life at the right moment and help you. Beautiful sunsets will appear, you will walk outside and realize that the birds are singing just for you, you will see butterflies or feathers or find pennies from heaven. When you stop and listen, God will show himself in an assortment of ways. Look for it!
All these blessings will come upon you, and overtake you, if you listen to the LORD your God’s voice.