Recently, I was thinking about the story of Doubting Thomas. You remember the story, right? Jesus had risen from the dead, and had appeared to the disciples, but Thomas was not with them. The disciples told Thomas they’d seen Jesus, but Thomas said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” So later, Jesus appeared to the disciples again, and this time Thomas was there. He shows Thomas his hands and his side, and Thomas believes.
The story is presented as one of belief in the risen Jesus. Jesus wanted Thomas to believe, of course. But we’re told that, when Jesus appeared to the other disciples, he showed them his hands and his side, too. In other words, Jesus showed the marks in his hands and his side to all the disciples, not just Thomas.
And that got me wondering if there could be more to the story than what we originally think. Maybe there was an additional reason Jesus showed the disciples his hands and his side. Maybe what Jesus was telling the disciples was this: “Look, I conquered death, but I still went through the pain of it. I was betrayed, and that hurt. I had nails put into my hands, and that hurt. That pain was real. It had to be this way, and I forgive everyone for it, but it still hurt. I still have the scars, and the scars aren’t going away.”
Some of you have felt a lot of pain in your lives. You’ve felt physical pain. You’ve felt emotional pain. You’ve felt the pain of betrayal. Some of you are feeling some or all of those types of pain right now. That pain is real, and it hurts. Physical pain is real, and it hurts. Emotional pain is real, and it hurts. The pain of betrayal is real, and it hurts. And even when it’s done, even if you forgive people for it, you still have the scars. The scars are real, and the scars aren’t going away.
One of the many things the story of Jesus tells us is that Jesus understands pain. Jesus knows exactly what it feels like. Whether we’re talking about physical pain, or emotional pain, or even the pain of betrayal, Jesus knows exactly what it feels like. He knows how much it hurts. And he knows that all of that pain leaves scars. He knows those scars never completely go away.
Jesus felt the pain, and he had the scars. And yet, he was able to forgive all the people who had given him that pain. He was able to forgive all the people who betrayed him. The scars were still there, but Jesus was able to move past them. If he had not done that, would he really have conquered death? I don’t know, but I suspect not. He would still have been living in the pain, rather than moving on to rise from the dead and live in love and peace.
That’s what you and I need to do, too. We need to forgive those who’ve given us pain. We need to forgive the people who have betrayed us. Is it easy? Absolutely not. It’s hard. It was probably hard for Jesus, too. Betrayal, especially, is one of the hardest things in the world to forgive. Betrayal means being hurt by someone close to you, someone you trusted, someone you completely opened up to, someone you believed in. It’s really hard to forgive that.
But we need to. Because forgiveness is the only way we can move past the pain. It’s the only way we can move past the scars. Until we forgive, we’re still living in pain, rather than moving on to rise past it and live in love and peace.
If you’re still dealing with the scars, Jesus understands. But Jesus wants you to forgive. And he’ll help you forgive, if you ask him to. You can talk to me, too, of course, and I’ll provide any help I can. But ultimately, it’s something you’ll have to do with the help of Jesus. And you can, because all things are possible with God.
The influence of scars is strong. But Jesus is stronger. Trust in his power. Then, you’ll be able to move past your scars. You’ll be able to live in love and peace.