Many of you know that my daughter is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed when she was a junior in college and like many cancer patients, she had a series of surgeries as part of her treatment. Each one left a scar, and surely there are emotional and spiritual scars that went along with the physical ones. We were vacationing together a few years after it was over, and we noticed a young man on the beach with large scars on his neck running up the back of his head. As we speculated about the cause, she leaned over to me and said, “You know, Mom, scars are like tattoos. They just tell better stories.”
Scars that brought healing indeed do tell of hope and redemption. The stories they tell of survival, triumph, and victory become a badge of honor to the wearer.
In our passage in Isaiah today, we read about the future Messiah’s scars. His will be so deep that he will appear disfigured and even somewhat inhuman. Yet while his appearance will be unlike any other human, it will astonish and silence everyone. His scars will tell a much, much better story.
Look, my servant will succeed.
He will be exalted and lifted very high.
14 Just as many were appalled by you,
he too appeared disfigured, inhuman,
his appearance unlike that of mortals.
15 But he will astonish many nations.
Kings will be silenced because of him,
because they will see what they haven’t seen before;
what they haven’t heard before, they will ponder.
As I read that today, it made me wince. I was taken back in time to the severe beating that Jesus endured on our behalf before they forcibly nailed his broken bones to a rough wooden cross. I saw a picture of our lovely savior so damaged that his disciples might have had to look twice to pick him out from among the three who hung there that day. I grieve my sins that put him there.
But Isaiah didn’t just put him there and leave him in this passage. Indeed, he began with the bold promise that this suffering servant would not only succeed but would be exalted and lifted very high. When Jesus ascended back to his Father, the story was complete and the good news was delivered once and for all. This is why our crosses in United Methodist churches are empty. Our broken, battered Lord is no longer there, but was made whole and beautiful again in his resurrection.
What scars do you bear that can help you tell your story of hope and redemption to others? Did Jesus come into your life to lift you up and make you whole again? We have an opportunity to be wounded healers if we are willing to share our stories with others so that they might find him, too.
Our sins may have put Christ on the cross, but they didn’t keep him there. Because of the resurrection, we all are invited to participate in the greatest story ever told. Do you believe that? Do you believe in the resurrection?
If you do, go and tell. By his wounds we all will be healed.
Exalted by Michelle Robertson