While praying with the resurrection stories this week—scripture passages I have read dozens of times, heard preached about every year and thought I knew so well—I had an “aha” moment.
The idea that Jesus’ suffering was not in vain, that his death had a redemptive quality is not new.
This year, though, the image of Jesus showing his wounds to the disciples after his resurrection took on a different meaning for me.
Recently, I have been pondering sharing more of my wounds. I have written pieces that expose parts of my story that have been long kept secret. Although I have been through years of therapy to help me get past the shame, I can still be crippled by it. Don’t tell are two words that reverberate in my mind and prevent me from full disclosure.
I admire others who get past shame and tell all and am amazed by those who seem to have escaped shame all together.
But I have not been able to shake off shame. I still cringe whenever I reveal a detail of my past, when I speak of something I have been warned not to tell.
Reading the resurrection stories this year and imagining the scene of Jesus standing with his fearful disciples sparked a new insight.
Jesus got his wounds in a shameful fashion. He was mistreated by his own religious leaders and crucified as a common criminal.
The disciples scattered rather than stand at the foot of the cross and watch the man they respected be humiliated and disgraced. He had been their leader, but now he was broken—not powerful at all, but humbly submitting to ridicule, abuse and death.
And yet, just days later, there he was, standing in their midst and inviting them to look at his wounds.
For Jesus, they were not marks of shame, but rather signs of victory. He was proud to show the marks of his suffering.
The disciples had been cowering in a locked room when Jesus appeared and invited them to look at his wounds.
What was clearer to me this year is that if Jesus could endure humiliation and overcome shame, so could his disciples. He was inviting them (and me) to shake off shame, to convert what looked like weakness into power, to break free of the bonds that kept them in hiding, behind locked doors.
Jesus broke through their fears and invited them to spread the word that humiliating treatment did not define or limit him, but rather he converted that treatment into true freedom.
Fear drives people to abuse power and victimize vulnerable people.
By showing his wounds as signs of triumph over the fears of others, Jesus was offering the ultimate freedom. He did not let what had happened to him to limit or define him, and he invites me to do the same.
Showing his wounds was the exclamation point on his message that fear is useless and that trust in God leads to freedom.