Does it ever strike you as odd that Jesus retained the marks of his wounds in his hands, feet, and side following the resurrection? What if these scars tell us something about what real resurrection looks like?
At my previous church, there was a home-bound elderly English woman whom I would visit monthly. I would always invite her to share with me stories of her life. One story in particular that I will never forget is about a traumatic experience she had while working at a factory in England during the German Blitz offensive in the Second World War.
She was sitting at her station when a bomb struck the building, completely destroying half of the factory. She told me that after the massive blast, she looked to her right only to see that everyone on that side of the factory was dead. But perhaps the most astonishing part of the story is that the shock of the experience was so intense for her that while everyone else was fleeing the scene, she simply sat there at her station and went back to work. Later in life she would also experience the devastating loss of a child, and eventually her husband as well.
So one day, while visiting with her – and fully cognizant of her experiences of loss – I was struck when she remarked that life was “a gift.” In that moment, I couldn’t resist aking her how she was able to see life as “a gift” in spite of all the bad things that had happened to her. I still remember her response as though it was yesterday. She said, “Sari, its not that I don’t feel pain, but somehow, it’s because of what I’ve experienced that I am able to see the gift of life and really live.”
What if resurrection, or life after death, has never meant going back to the way things used to be, or getting back what you used to have? What if it means going to a new place entirely because of where you’ve been? What if the death itself – the injury, the brokenness, the pain, the suffering – is the essential ingredient for that new life? Naturally, most of us tend to think of “living again” after a death or traumatic experience as life in spite of the death. But maybe real resurrection is new life because of the death.
Most of the time, we work hard to put pain and grief behind us so that we can get on with our lives. But perhaps the reason Jesus still had the scars on his body after his resurrection is to remind us that resurrection does not erase our pain, but is a journey through the pain to a place of hope again.
Grace and peace to you this Easter season,