All scars tell a story.
Scars give a certain authenticity to the story they match.
Being an out-doors type for most of my life, and having grown up in a remote area of Australia, a large number of my stories have scars to match. Some of the scars have faded, and with them, a certain authenticity to the validity of my tale.
I have a wonderful adventure of hunting down a large Goanna (a species of monitor lizard in Australia) as a 9 year old. After tracking him onto the side of a cliff that plunged down into a water-hole about 8 meters below, I finally cornered old man Goanna in a small cave. I had no weapon, no rocks could be found on the edge of that cliff, so I grit my teeth and lunged at him. The struggle was brief. I clambered down the precipice as proud as a I could be, with the Goanna slung over my shoulder and draped down my back—apparently dead. The first clue that he was otherwise came as I felt his talons rip through the flesh on my back. A Goanna with a sore head is ferocious foe. The tussle continued and I prevailed—this time ensuring he would not wake again. But the battle left a mark, marks I bore for many years, even if I bore them somewhat proudly. My scars authenticated my battle, and my victory.
The gospel is a story of scars.
The Jesus we celebrate at Christmas, came in to the world with sweet soft skin, smooth and tender with that newborn lustre. But the Jesus we celebrate at Easter is battered, bruised, and bleeding. The Jesus we longly look to as he ascends to the Father's side still carries the marks of his atoning work. The gospel is a story of scars. The scars Jesus bore authenticated his battle, and his victory.
I love the narrative of Thomas, maybe it's because he shares my name, or maybe it's because I relate to him in his uncertainty and questions. There is something I am drawn to in his discovery.
Easter Friday is where we remember when Jesus received the wounds that he would soon hold out to Thomas. Sunday is the day where we will celebrate His divinely resurrected body, perfect in every way—except for the scars.
John 20:24-29 (ESV)—24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe." 26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." 28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
You may be like Thomas, and need to see the scars. Take courage, Jesus in His kindness and grace, will reach out His hands, will show you His side, He will give you what you need so that you may believe.
However, by Jesus' own words, there is great blessing for those who don't need scars.
Is the story enough for you? Or do you need something more? Are you ready to receive the blessing that comes with simple faith?
The old, old story is true—whether you have seen the scars or not.
And one day soon, we will all see in the throne room of heaven, one whose appearance was like a lamb that had been slain. It will be a story we will never tire of hearing, even if it is told for an eternity.