Friday, 16 April 2021

The Wounds of Jesus are Not an Embarrassment

 The wounds of the Risen One are neither an embarrassment nor inconvenient.  The cross was not a mistake that needed Plan B to correct. If the wounds of Jesus were an embarrassment or an inconvenience we would not have an account of a Christophany of the Wounded-Risen One.  It is almost like Jesus wants his disciples to see his wounds.

In popular culture the afterlife is portrayed in ethereal terms with at least the world of suffering and death a past memory, or perhaps even ignored. Think of Dumbledore and Harry P speaking near the end of the movie series in a railway station of sorts. Like an escape from reality, a dualism with the unreal afterlife wholly disconnected from the evil world from which he has escaped. Not so the resurrected Jesus. He is no bodyless spirit or vision. The resurrection takes all that we are, and our histories, into God's future and transforms us. Resurrection has nail holes.

We should be rattled. Imagine seeing a dead man who is so visibly alive as the risen Christ yet has all the wounds of death. The kind of wounds that kill. It isn't enough to say that such a person is alive. It would be better to say that a dead man is alive. And that doesn't make any sense, or at least not in the way we ordinarily think of life and death. It wasn't just a matter of God reversing the death of Jesus, as though death was banished. It is more like God gave life to a dead man who remains dead, except that death has lost its sting, its meaning, and its power. Life and death, as two sides of the one coin as we experience life and death, no longer mean what we think they mean. Christ is risen!

I like that little bit in Colossians where we are told God made a public example of the rulers and authorities, triumphing over them in the cross. (2:15) When the risen Jesus flashes his wounds to his disciples (John 20:20; Luke 24:39-40) he is making a public example of his victory over death and the power of death. Not the public example of a Roman general in a Triumph. Indeed, the evidence of the triumph of God in Christ is exactly what Rome would see as signs of defeat. But, because Christ is raised (not just alive again instead of being dead), death has lost its sting, death has lost its meaning and power, the wounds of Christ are his Triumph.

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of how John Donne, in his Holy Sonnet (Death be not Proud) picks up 1Corinthians 15:26.
    Donne’s poem gives us a way of thinking about our own death. He finishes:
    “One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
    And death shall be no more, death, thou shalt die.”