“Showing off our Scars”

“Showing off our Scars”

“Showing off our Scars”

 John  20:19-31

One of the first people to show off his scars to me was my grandpa Otto.  I was not very old, maybe 6 or 7.  It was on one of the visits he and Grandma made to our house.  I’m not sure how he got on the subject, but he started telling us about his open heart surgery—how the doctors had cut open his chest and his leg, and then taken out one of his veins to replace a blocked artery.  At that age my brother and I did not really understand all the anatomy of how that could work, however, the idea of my grandpa’s chest being opened definitely got our attention.  Then our grandpa proceeded to lift up his shirt and pull up his pant leg in order to show us the jagged lines in his skin which made up the scars from his surgery.  You can bet that our eyes really widened at this physical evidence of his story.  You can bet that we really believed what he had been through and didn’t forget it once we saw those marks on his skin.

Have you ever noticed how some people seem almost proud to show you their scars?  Have you ever noticed how some people seem almost eager to show you what gruesome or difficult procedure they had to go through and whether you like it or not, they are going to pull up their sleeve, pull up their pant leg, or lower their collar so that you can visibly see where that scar is on their body?  It is almost as if showing off their scars reminds them of how they survived a difficult point in their life and sharing it demonstrates how they overcame that struggle.

Jesus seems eager to show off his scars when he appears to the disciples after he has been resurrected.   He intentionally shows his scars to his disciples and shows them off again to Thomas who wasn’t there the first time.  He even encourages Thomas to put his hand on the scars.  This must have seemed a little shocking and even gruesome to the disciples, but you can bet they believed it was Jesus after they saw those marks on his skin.  You can bet Thomas believed at that point the story he had been told was true. Those scars demonstrated that Jesus had overcome the greatest struggle of all—that of the grave—which showed his followers that they too had the hope of new life.

Many of us have not only physical scars, but mental and emotional ones as well.  These scars can be more difficult to share and talk about than our physical ones.  We are not as quick to “show off” these kinds of scars, however, might they too be important to talk about?   Could the marks on our emotional being also remind us of what we have been through and how we have grown from it? Could they demonstrate to others that although there may be times when we feel spiritually dead, there is still the hope that we will feel alive again?

-Pastor Erik Goehner