Scarred for Life
ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
We broke His heart upon the cross. After our betrayal, weak-willed and sleepy, we doubted and we feared. We are not worthy of His patience or His mercy. The sacrifice was too great! It shook creation and blotted out the sun. But even in His anguish and His sorrow, His love was pure. It did not waver. It never faltered. He gently gave what we had no right to demand, what we sought to steal by force and violence. He prayed for us to the very end. And the “prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Our Lord poured out His life that we would have it and live. From His holy wounds—from the nail prints and His pierced side—comes our hope and our life.
Thomas was brought back to faith by the scars in Jesus’ hands, feet, and side. Those holy scars restored faith, but not because they prove that Jesus is the One who was crucified back from the dead, that He who died that brutal and merciless death outside the city gates is risen and lives. They do demonstrate that. But so does His eating broiled fish and walking through stones and doors and across the waves. Those scars restore faith because they are the doorway of grace.
His blameless flesh was wounded. But the blood of God came forth to answer all of hell’s demands. No one took His life from Him. No one could. After all, He is God. But He gave His life. He laid it down as a sacrifice. He appeased His Father’s wrath. He stopped the devil’s accusations. He gave peace and hope to men. From those holy wounds, from the scourging and the thorns, from the nails and the spear, and out of death’s tomb comes the salvation of the world. The Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, is alive, and we are saved.
Three days after He died, He entered that upper room where He had given His body and blood. He did not come to rebuke them, but to deliver the peace He had won for them. He breathed His Holy Spirit upon them. He sent them out to bestow that Spirit, to forgive sins, to enlighten the hearts of men, to preach the glory of the cross and the beauty of those scars.
The Church, in existence already in Eden, was established in its final form that Easter evening. Its mission and purpose was clear: forgive sins. The Apostolic Office was established so that men would stand in the stead of Christ and deliver His blood—not as a sacrifice to the Father, but as a gift to His people. Now all believers eat the Bread of Life, the flesh of Christ. They are united to Him through that gift. Those sent men speak Christ’s words. They forgive sins. They make alive in Holy Baptism. They preach the Word. They preach Christ crucified and risen. They preach the fulfillment of all salvation. Their preaching forgives sins and reconciles men to the Father.
This is the Ministry that God provides even today. The men who fill that Office are not any better than the fearful disciples who hid behind locked doors. They have their personal doubts, their acts of cowardice and betrayal, their self-centered worries. But through these weak earthen vessels, God’s Kingdom expands. His Word shines forth despite their weaknesses. Sinners are baptized and absolved. God’s people hear the Word and receive the Body and Blood. Their sins are forgiven. Whether these pastors understand it or not, the Word of God goes forth and faith is born. And the gates of hell shall not overcome it, for Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!
Our Lord bears His scars even now. They are not meant to induce guilt or sorrow. In fact, the opposite is true. Those scars testify on our behalf before the Father that Christ has paid the price of our sin with His blood. Those scars are for us the constant reminder of His love. And as they did for Thomas, those scars inspire us to worship and pray: “My Lord and my God!” ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.