Beloved in Christ,
In our Tuesday night bible study [insert bible study plug here!] we’re currently looking at the themes of heaven, the resurrection, and the mission of the church. One of the things that we’re discovering is that if we’re going to learn to speak and think Christianly about these sorts of things well then we really need to begin with Jesus himself and his risen body.
One of the surprising things we discover about Jesus’ risen body is that it is consistent with his crucified body. You may remember the story of Thomas and Jesus. When he received news of the resurrection Thomas was initially disbelieving: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe,” (John 20:25).
Sure enough, a week later, the risen and living Jesus is standing there in front of Thomas inviting him to do just that: “Put you finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe,” (John 20:27). It’s one of the curious things about the risen body of Jesus that it still bears the scars of his crucifixion. It’s also a source of tremendous hope, I believe.
This week in our gospel reading Jesus is preparing his disciples for his impending death and resurrection. “A little while, and you will no longer see me,” he says. Jesus is preparing them for the pain, sorrow, and darkness of his death.
But then Jesus continues with a word of hope: “And again a little while, and you will see me.” “You will have pain, but [when I am raised] your pain will turn into joy,” (John 16:20). I’ve been really struck by that last phrase this week. Your pain will turn into joy. Not, your pain will disappear. Not, your pain will be replaced. But rather, your pain will turn into joy. Your pain will be transformed, says Jesus. Your sorrow itself will become joy.
That’s one of the things accomplished by Jesus’ resurrection. Like Jesus, our risen bodies may still bear some old scars. But, healed and transformed by the resurrection, they will cease to be sources of pain and sorrow. Then they will be sources of joy. A joy that no one can steal away (John 16:22).
Where are your wounds? Where is your sorrow and pain? Do not hide them away. Our Lord sees and knows and he loves you. Trust him with your sadness and pain and let the glory of his resurrection transform them into joy.
Yours in Christ,