Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 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.”
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.” 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.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:24-29
Each year a different part of the Easter story stands out to me. This year, it's the encounter between Thomas and Jesus after His resurrection. I wonder why Jesus came back with the scars in His hands. He could have meet His followers with a body healed from the events of a few days earlier. But His scars were there for anyone to see.
According to dictionary.com, a scar is "a mark left by a healed wound, sore, or burn." We all have scars. Some are easily seen. Others we are better at hiding.
When my sister was born in 1977, she had two unexpected issues: one was an intestinal blockage that was keeping her from digesting and passing food, the other was Down syndrome. The doctors performed surgery on her days-old body to remove the blockage so she could grow and thrive, but she still has a scar across her belly from that procedure forty years ago.
But my parents were also scarred that day, in a less obvious way. A young doctor took my dad into a utility closet and asked if he really wanted them to perform that surgery, or if they wanted to let my sister literally starve to death.
Christ had the physical scars from His crucifixion, and His disciples were emotionally scarred.
Jesus's body was a reminder of the worst event in history, the most unjust. It was the punishment and death of someone innocent and pure. And the disciples weren't sure how to go on after the devastation.
But remember our definition of a scar? It's healed. The pain and circumstances around the event are memories. My sister doesn't have any pain around her surgery site. And my parents have healed from the heartless words from that young doctor. How could they heal from that horrific event? The same reason the disciples healed from their emotional wounds.
By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24b
Through Jesus's life, sacrifice, and resurrection, we are all healed. We can forgive as He forgave. We can love as He loved.
This Easter weekend, look at your scars with new eyes.
If like Christ, you got some of your scars because of the sin of others, trust in Him to heal you (and to bring justice in His time). Ask for help from your pastor or a trusted counselor. If it helps you heal, work to make sure others don't experience the same pain. If your scars are results of accidents, surgeries, or circumstances, thank Him for the healing He has already provided to your body. If like my parents your scars are deeper than what's seen on your skin, ask for God to heal you from those hurts as well. Invite the Holy Spirit to reveal His plan for your healing and His purpose in your pain.
But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. Malachi 4:2a