Sermon for March 8, 2020

The Scars that Lead to Faith

John 20:24-29

We are all very familiar with this story and we give Ole’ Thomas a bad rap.  However, the reality is that there is a very teachable moment in this text.  Thomas struggled to believe that Jesus was alive, and it wasn’t until he saw the scars that he believed.  All of mankind still thinks this way.  Unlike Thomas, they can’t physically see Jesus, however there is another way we can introduce him to the world.  It is this:  Show the world our scars!

  • Thomas’ name by itself comes from the Semitic word Anglicized as “ta’am” meaning “twin” meaning we may not even know his actual given name. (John 11:16)
  • A couple of misunderstandings need to be evaluated:
    • Thomas never is mentioned as inserting his fingers into the wounds of Jesus.  Unfortunately, medieval artists have depicted as such.  And this is not that Jesus wasn’t allowed to be touched either.
    • Mary Magdalene gets a bad rap too, mainly labeled as a prostitute which I nowhere in Scripture.  Secondarily, there is also the idea that Jesus couldn’t be touched by anyone because that would make him unclean and it is based off the translation of John 20:17.
    • The Greek word translated as touch is haptomai which literally means to “attach oneself”.  This changes our understanding as Jesus is not talking about physical touch but moreover that even though he was with Mary now, he was still going away to be seated beside his Father.

What do we do with our scars?

  • We hide them.  (Genesis 3:8-10)
  • We cover them up.  (Genesis 31:34-35)
  • We pretend they never happened. (1 Kings 19:3-5)

What are we doing here?

Every one of us has scars.  Every one of us have experienced grief, shame, tragedy, and have fought battles that we have won but also fought battles that we lost.  The battles we lost are scars, but we don’t stay there.  Eventually, we understand that Jesus fought this battle for us.  It is our faith in Him that gives us the strength for the strength we need within ourselves.  Elijah is a perfect example of this, because guess what, no matter what you have done, good or bad, we are NOT alone! (1 Kings 19:9-14)

There are storms that we will all battle in our lives in which God is not in.  Our lives may become shattered, the wind may try to blow us down, and our lives may be shaken but God is not in these things.  They happen because of the fallenness of all mankind.  It is the ugliest things that happen that cause the most deep and ugly scars. 

In hearing the whisper of God, Elijah was not alone.  This didn’t rectify the fact that he still felt alone!  He did what was right and good and people hated him for it.  He felt like everyone hated him and that death was the only answer.  That’s a scary place to be in, but real none the less.  But notice what God does next: (1 Kings 19: 15-20)

Elijah was given a partner to help, someone who had his own struggles, Elisha.  Notice what happens when Elijah was taken away from him to heaven. (2 Kings 2:23-24) A bit rough of a thing to do to a group youths but Elisha was grieving the loss of Elijah.  But after all, they were just picking!?!  What they didn’t know was what Elisha was dealing with at the time, there was a deep hurt they were totally unaware of.  The best way to avoid this is to not “pick” on someone at all!

Jesus showed Thomas his scars, we ought to share ours!  Why, because we are definitely not alone in our struggles!  Jesus was all about relationships.  His Church is all about relationships.  Why, because real people have real problems.  It can be messy.  It can be dirty.  But when we share our stories of all the muck and mire, people will see that they don’t have to feel all alone and filthy.  Remember, Jesus does the cleaning, we can be the ones to dry them off!

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