‘Look at my hands and feet. It is I myself. Touch me and see: a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.’
Look at my hands and feet-why does the risen Lord still bear the marks of his wounds? What are we to make of these wounds? Why does Jesus show his wounds to his disciples? Most of us take a lot of care to keep our most wounded, most vulnerable parts of ourselves as much out of sight as possible. We want to show the world our strengths, not our weaknesses. Yet Jesus invites the disciples to touch and see his wounds. He shows them his wounds- his scarred hands and feet. His scarred hands and scarred feet tell a profound story about him.
The scarred hands of another man called David tell a story about him. The story concerns a small boy, being raised in a frontier city by his grandmother. One night the house catches on fire. The grandmother, trying to rescue the boy who was asleep in the bedroom upstairs, is overcome by the smoke and dies in the fire. This frontier city doesn’t have much of a fire department. A crowd gathers around the house and they hear a small boy crying out for help. The lower floor is a wall of flames and no one seems to know what to do. Suddenly, a man pushes through the crowd and begins climbing an iron drainage pipe which runs to the roof. The pipe is hot from the fire, but he makes it to a second floor window. The man crawls through the window and locates the boy. With the crowd cheering encouragement, the man climbs back down the hot iron pipe with the boy on his back and his arms around his neck.
A few weeks later, a public meeting was held to determine in whose custody the boy would be placed. Each person wanting the child would be allowed to make a brief statement. The first man said, “I have a farm and would give the boy a good home. He would grow up on the farm and learn a trade.” The second person to speak was the local school teacher. She said, “I am a school teacher and I would see to it that he received a good education.” Finally, the banker said, “Mrs. Morton and I would be able to give the boy a fine home and a fine education. We would like him to come and live with us.” The presiding officer looked around and asked, “Is there anyone else who would like to say anything?” From the back row, a man rose and said, “These other people may be able to offer some things I can’t. All I can offer is my love.” Then, he slowly removed his hands from his coat pockets. A gasp went up from the crowd because his hands were scarred terribly from climbing up and down the hot pipe. The boy recognized the man as the one who had saved his life and ran into his waiting arms. The farmer, teacher and the banker simply sat down. Everyone knew what the decision would be. The scarred hands proved that this man had given more than all the others. He had shown sacrificial love for this young boy. His wounds revealed much about his character and love.
Jesus believed that by looking at his hands; they would reveal much about his character and love. Hence Jesus’ words to his disciples: ‘Look at my hands and my feet.’ He invited Thomas as we read last Sunday to see and to touch his wounded hands and side. Jesus believed that by seeing his hands and feet that they would communicate much about his loyalty and love. He also believed that his wounded hands and feet would also be a source of comfort and strength to his disciples. Maybe you are surprised to learn that the risen body of Jesus, his resurrected body still had scars and wounds, you might have been expecting this new body to be whole and without blemish. Yet not only is his body still scarred but it is those very wounds with which his disciples recognise him. Those wounds which were caused by humiliation, torture and crucifixion are the very same wounds.
His wounds spoke firstly to his disciples of his identity – his wounds he reassured them that he was the same Lord that was crucified. It was these wounds that communicated afresh his incredible sacrificial love for them. His wounds reminded them that Jesus cared for them and loved them with all his heart. It would be these very wounds that would eventually bring his disciples healing and peace. Peace was the first gift Jesus brings to his disciples and how much they were in need of it!
Jesus is not one for hiding his wounds. Jesus shows that our wounds- our weaknesses can become our strength. You know yourself that you can relate better to someone who has some experience of what you are going through albeit it is very different- for no death- no cancer is ever the same for one person to another. But the experience – opens up the door- it creates an opportunity to share the woundedness that creates a bond and through that bond healing can come. Henri Nouwen wrote a book entitled the wounded healer- claiming that we are all wounded but our wounds are healed in Christ’s wounds. In Christ our wounds, our weaknesses can become our strength, leading to peace and healing.
MEDITATE ON HOW JESUS’ WOUNDS HEAL US
In what ways can our wounds be used to help others?
What are your weaknesses and how can they be your strength?
What is meant when Paul says that God works through our weaknesses for his glory?
In what way would you like to see peace in your own life, in your family, in your church and in your world?