The crucifixion continues. Now Jesus’ two legs are nailed together onto the cross with one even larger spike which will equal two scars.
All of Jesus’ body weight is now on the nails nailed above his ankles causing excruciating pain which shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain. All of the nails are nailed in the location that is designed to put pressure on the median nerves. To relieve the pain in the arms, the criminal—or Jesus–has to push up on his feet which sends a searing pain through the nerves between the metatarsel bones. When hanging, the lungs are unable to work properly because of the pressure. Just to breathe, the criminal—or Jesus–has to try to stand on his nailed feet to get a breath of air.
All of the weight of me is also on Jesus. Every time I am violated. Every sin I commit. Me. Because I am pursued and loved anyway because he is love.
This all is too much to think about it yet I must. This is what Lent is preparing us for.
This ugliness that was my life that is also crucified. I say was knowing that part of my life is still is. This is me growing on this broken road of faith. The road is not straight. The road is not even. It is definitely broken. And this I know: In the midst of my sin, God loves me. His back is not turned. He is not too busy. He is broken because I am broken. There are scars to prove it. To prove my growth—and that I get a chance to grow. The five crucifixion scars remind me yet again of my second chance to start over. I have not screwed up too much for Jesus to not love me anymore. And I don’t have to live with my shame.
Shame is an easy weight to carry. Shame loves to punish me this way. Shame loves to keep me in heaviness. Shame loves to hide me from these scars. There is this verse in the book of Hosea, When the rulers of Israel finish their drinking, off they go to find some prostitutes. They love shame more than honor. (Hosea 4:18). Isn’t that the hard truth about our sins? We love our shame more than our honor. We don’t really love our shame but we don’t hate it enough to make that change in our lives. We don’t make the hard decisions to get rid of those bad habits, those things that slow us down, the sin that so easily entraps us.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1-2.
He is seated in the place of honor still with those five crucifixion scars.
Jesus endured the cross disregarding its shame. Because he is love. He bears the weight of my sins and my shame. While bearing that weight on the cross Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. I am forgiven. These scars prove that.
I have a friend with this new vibrant faith. She has been forgiven and healed from much. Because of this she is contagious to be around. She recently confessed to me that she loves the Holy Spirit, she loves God the Father mostly because of the grace and wisdom her own father has long had for her, but she doesn’t really like Jesus. She knows so many others love Jesus but she just can’t get her head wrapped around that thought. She believes it comes from knowing the perfect life that Jesus led. Her life has been far from perfect. She struggles to love someone like that when her life is so far from perfect, especially with all of these decisions she made.
I challenged her to do this prayer exercise. Invite Jesus to look at you and ask him to show you what he sees. Sure enough one day while driving she was doing this prayer exercise. She is a mom of two so driving in the car is one of her few quiet times. During this drive she was praying and she saw Jesus grab her face between his two hands and hold her face up to his face and say “I see you and love you.” She told me she had to pull the car over and she wept. It was so personal. Yet that is how God is.
Those two hands held her face close to his face. Those two hands had scars. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:10-12. I am forgiven. These scars prove that.
He can bear the weight of all my sin. And all your sin. And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage (be brave!) and not shrink back from him in shame. 1 John 2:28
Do you realize that scars are not injuries. A scar is a healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole. These five crucifixion scars are my second chance. Or 50th chance. Because they are always extended toward me. Maybe even holding my face up close to Jesus’ face reminding me that I am seen and that I am loved. Shame can not hide me as I am continually drawn to those scars.
(Photo credit: https://fromworrytoglory.com/2013/03/30/how-can-the-death-of-the-one-jesus-christ-be-redemption-for-all/)