Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!
“Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet. Luke 24:35-40.
Jesus showed them his scars. This was real. This was how they—and us—know that Jesus’ resurrection and thus the redemption possibility that we all get is possible. The disciples who scattered at Jesus’ crucifixion (except John) really needed to know that there was a second chance. I often need to know that I have a second chance. How Jesus showed them was showing them his scars.
It is in this brokenness—the scars–that Jesus is the easiest to see.
If you have a lot of why questions I have a book to recommend to you. Actually I have a long list of books to recommend to you because I do have a lot of why questions and I’ve chosen to bravely lean into the holy tension of those why questions instead of numbing myself to remove the pain or living with an empty placating faith that just gives easy answers to painful questions that never really heals the broken soul. Hence the creation of Bravester.
This particular book is Finding God in the Ruins by Matt Bays (painfully beautiful). Here’s a look at Jesus that will change you.
“While writing this book, I sent an earlier portion of the manuscript to a good friend of mine. In chapter 5, I had written this statement: ‘He participated in their horrors by being present.’
“This is what my friend sent back to me: ‘Where is God? He is hanging there on the gallows. He’s not just in the brothel with the girl being violated; he IS being violated.’
“He IS being violated.
“I let the thought sink in, and for the first time in my life the crucified God looked different to me. He wasn’t watching; he was receiving. Before this moment, I had compassion for God only on the Friday he was executed. That was the day his human rights were violated. But now I was faced with the idea of his crucifixion being stretched out until the end of time—that in every abysmal crime against us, every suicide, every abuse, every murder, rape, and addiction, God himself was being violated.
“God wasn’t staring in the brothels of Mumbai; he was stuck on a dirty floor with a pedophile on top of him. And he wasn’t leaning against the laundry machine in my basement; he was being pierced, crushed, bruised, and wounded so eventually I could be healed. It happened to him every time it happened to me. It was him, the same as it was me.” p. 197.
This love leaves scars. In Jesus. And he still extends the other wrist.
God is going to continue to pursue you and love you anyway because he is love. He is present with you, even in the horrors.
Why can’t he remove you from the horrors? Such a big theological question that comes from a place of pain that is real. A theological answer feels separate from the pain of the question. A theological answer doesn’t soothe the pain that has ripped you apart. That is leaving you with callouses.
Look at the scars. They are extended to you. Jesus is never just watching the horror that happen to you. He is with you in it.
I know this brave beautiful single woman who has given her life to living in urban blight to love on the neighborhood kids (and took some white water rafting yesterday in 40 degree March weather!). She wrote this recently:
Guys, life has been so hard lately … like super, uber difficult. And that’s okay! God’s still got me, He’s still in control. And that’s exactly the truth I want my girls to believe through thick and thin. I want them to know Him so well that when their world seems to be falling apart and they are tempted to doubt everything, they will instead remember who God is. That they will remember that feelings don’t equal truth.
Tonight was our first night studying the names of God and it was so encouraging to see the girls engaged and asking all their questions…keep praying for us this semester as we lean in closer to the One who completes us.
Who would have guessed that a completed God would have scars? That is the way of love.
(Photo credit: https://fromworrytoglory.com/2013/03/30/how-can-the-death-of-the-one-jesus-christ-be-redemption-for-all/)