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Posts Tagged ‘Hebrews 5:9’

 Zwald-62

 

One of the “Letters to the Editor” in the most recent issue of Country Magazine caught my attention. The writer, James, related an event from his boyhood days on a farm in the 1940s.

Seems he had injured his hand quite severely one day while tightening a chain. But work on a farm doesn’t wait, especially during hay-baling season when the hay is ripe for harvesting. So in spite of his injury, James had to wear rough work gloves as he operated the wire baler. Every day for a week when he removed the gloves, the scab on his hand would come off and the wound would bleed profusely again.

On Sunday afternoon he plopped down on the living carpet to take a nap. His dog, Shadow, came to lie down beside him. But instead of settling in for a snooze himself, Shadow began to lick James’ wound. It actually felt good, James explains, so he let the dog continue.

The next morning James was astonished to see that his wound was completely healed. “It was as if the injury had never happened.”

Not until much later did James find out that a dog’s saliva contains healing properties. That’s why, when injured, they will lick their own wounds over and over.

I found James’ story particularly interesting because of a question that had been niggling in my mind this Easter season: Why did Jesus bear the scars of the crucifixion—in his hands, feet, and side–after the resurrection? It was certainly within God’s power to return Christ’s physical body to perfect wholeness, “as if the injuries had never happened.”

Come to find out, I’m not the first one to consider this question. As far back as the seventh century, Saint Bede of England (672-735, A.D.) wrote about the possibilities. Many others throughout the ages of the church have contemplated the reasons, including the following:

  1. The scars were proof to the disciples that he was the same person after resurrection as before. Had Jesus been completely restored, his followers may have assumed that their first inclination was correct: that what they saw was an apparition of Christ. After all, he appeared to them out of nowhere—an impossibility for a physical body.

But they not only saw him, Jesus invited them to touch him, so there could be no doubt (Luke 24:36-42).

  1. The scars were part of the proof of the prophecy that Jesus spoke of himself, that he would suffer, be killed, and rise again on the third day (Matthew 16:21). “This is what I told you,” Jesus reminded them (Luke 24:44).
  1. The scars provided evidence of Jesus’ physical body. Early in church history there were those who taught that Jesus didn’t really suffer on the cross. He was not truly human, therefore he only appeared to suffer.

They could not fathom the sinless Son of God submitting himself to such humiliation and horrific pain.   But dismissing the agony of Christ on the cross as well as the scars is incomprehensible.

Those three answers do quiet our curiosity, but what relevance might Jesus’ scars provide for us today?

  1. The scars prove that Jesus knows what it means to suffer. Crucifixion is the most cruel of death penalties, the worst that man can deliver. No one can say, “Jesus doesn’t know what I’m going through.” No, he is well-acquainted with grief. He knows what it’s like to bear scars of suffering.
  1. The scars prove God’s love and compassion. As the Son of God, he didn’t have to suffer on our behalf. Surely he could have devised a less abhorrent way. Instead, he identified himself with humanity by becoming human himself. He took our physical, emotional, and spiritual pain upon himself.   And he will wear the scars of suffering for eternity (Revelation 5:6).
  1. The scars remind us of what is to come. On Good Friday, Jesus body was beaten, bruised, and pierced. On Easter Sunday, those wounds became scars. A miraculous healing of gruesome wounds had occurred in a matter of hours.

One day a miraculous healing of our gruesome wounds will take place. Pain, suffering, loss, illness, and physical challenges will cease. Every negative aspect of life will melt away.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Oh, Lord Jesus, thank you, THANK YOU for carrying our pains, our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.  Thank you for taking the punishment we deserve and making us whole.  You are the one and only source of eternal salvation.  And only through your eternal bruises are we healed.  Out of overwhelming gratitude, we give ourselves to you.  We want to follow your example and please you.  Make us into what gives you pleasure.  

All glory to you, Jesus, forever and always!”  

 (Isaiah 53:4-6; Hebrews 5:9, 13:21, MSG)

Photo credits:  www.motherearthnews.com

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Back in the 1970s somebody came up with the idea of worry stones—small, smooth pebbles that people could rub between their fingers to release their worries. (What a great money-maker, huh?  Collect some free pebbles, clean ’em up and sell for 100% profit.  Genius.)

According to enthusiasts, the constant rubbing activates the nerves at the base of the thumb, releasing endorphins. As a result, a sense of calmness purportedly settles in the user’s mind.

Even if that’s true, what happens when the person stops rubbing? Since the worry has not been resolved; isn’t it likely to return? I can’t see myself rubbing a stone until I fall asleep at night, can you?

Here’s a better idea.  Instead of going to a small pebble for worry-relief, go to the Rock.

What Rock, you ask?

“There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2).

Next question:  Why go to the Rock?

1.  God our Rock is more stable and reliable than Gibraltar.

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The Rock of Gibraltar has become a symbol for stability, having stood sentry on the southern coast of Spain for centuries. Some say it dates back to the Jurassic Period.

But our God is older still, isn’t he.

“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:4).

And he is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  Now that’s reliable.

2.  God our Rock is more sheltering than a deep cave.

Verteba_Cave

(Verteba Cave, Ukraine)

During World War II, a small group of Ukrainian Jews found a way to escape the Nazis. They lived underground in caves for a year and a half.

At night they foraged for food. They even built showers and latrines deep inside.

But imagine living every day in pitch blackness and in fear of being discovered.

One day it happened. Nazi soldiers stumbled upon their hiding place. A courageous woman spoke for the group, as German guns pointed straight at her.

“What are you afraid of here?” she said. “Is the Furhrer going to lose the war because we live here?” Miraculously the soldiers left without doing anyone harm.

The band of Jewish villagers found relative safety in those caves,  and in April, 1944, the cave dwellers were liberated, able to return to the light.

But God our Rock offers guaranteed eternal safety for our souls. His Son, Jesus “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9)

3.  God our Rock is more protective than Masada.

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Perhaps you’re familiar with the mountaintop fortress, towering 1500 ft. above the Dead Sea.   The refuge was built by Herod the Great, from 37 to 31 B.C., to showcase his power.

Infamous for his brutality, Herod had good cause to be paranoid. He spared no expense to make sure this desert fortress could withstand attack and provide long-term refuge. His plan included protective casement walls, an ingenious water-collection system and cisterns for storage, storehouses, barracks, palaces, an armory and more.

Impregnable? Almost.

When Herod died, Jewish rebels were able to overtake the Roman guard remaining at the fortress. A thousand Jewish zealots lived atop Masada for three years.

Yet nothing or no one on earth can compare to God our Rock.

“Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I,” cried David. “For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe” (Psalm 61:2-3).

And how do we avail ourselves of God’s refuge?  Through gratitude, praise, and prayer.  We can:

  • Thank him for his promises, for the times he has protected and provided in the past.  We must feed our confidence in God rather than our fear.
  • Praise him for his glorious attributes that he is bringing to bear upon our situations–attributes such as power, wisdom, trustworthiness, and love.
  • Affirm our faith. If we occupy our minds with expressions of trust, there won’t be room for thoughts of worry.

“My soul finds rest in God alone;

my salvation comes from him.  

He alone is my rock and my salvation;

he is my fortress, I will never be shaken…

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;

my hope comes from him”

(Psalm 62:1-2, 5).

(Photo credits:  www.ehow.com; http://www.kids.brittanica.com; http://www.noplaceonearthfilm.com; http://www.masada.org.il.)

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