There is something very strange about this story of Jesus and the disciples. It happens whenever you see the words “peace be with you.” You see it first when Jesus enters into the locked room of the fear-struck disciples and he breathes on them a message of peace. You see it again when Jesus makes a special appearance for the benefit of giving Thomas his portion of Christ’s heavenly peace. Here is the strange thing; whenever Jesus speaks peace, he shows his wounds. Have you ever thought about that before? Isn’t that weird? I mean, would not a person think it strange, if that person were in my office, crying because her husband left her for another woman, and I said, “Peace be with you, here let me show you the scar from the corn on the bottom of my foot.”? I can’t say that I’ve tried this pastoral care technique of Jesus. “Peace be with you. Now take a look at this canker sore! You feel better now don’t you?” It is very strange to put peace and wounds together, but for Jesus peace and wounds go hand-in-hand.
Of course, the problem with revealing my canker sore or the scar on my foot is that they are trivial wounds. They have nothing to do with the woman’s problem of an unfaithful husband. Jesus’ wounds are anything but trivial. They are the wounds of death. They are the wounds inflicted by his own people. They are the same wounds that the people would inflict on Jesus’ own followers. They are the type of piercing wounds that are able to keep the disciples locked away in fear.
The disciples have good reason to be fearful. What if they were to leave the safety of their small bunker? Would they swept up and crucified also? Maybe. Probably. But, is keeping yourself locked away in fear any way to live. It sounds like a coffin to me. It sounds like death.
What if Jesus were to enter into their fearful world, show him his wounds, and prove that wounds do not have the last word? What if Jesus was to show them that his formerly, blood soaked, raw hamburger wounds; are now healed, and that he is very much alive: resurrected even? Would they believe? Would they leave the safety of their bunker, venture courageously into the world, and proclaim the kingdom of God? Would they risk obtaining those wounds themselves, secure in the knowledge that all wounds can be healed?
When I was in college, this disciple’s heart was suddenly hollowed out and left profoundly empty when I began to doubt God’s existence. Word such as, “you just need to believe,” and “God is there for you,” failed to breathe the filling words of the Holy Spirit. Walking around the school in a deep doubting Thomas depression, a religion professor of mine saw my depressed stupor and asked what was wrong. I mustered up the courage to tell this religion professor that I doubted if God was even there. He looked at me and said, “That is one of the most painful things you can go through. I almost ended my life when it hit me.” That was all he had to say. That pretty much ended the conversation, with one exception, he said, “Come to worship this morning.”
Though it seemed silly to come and worship that in which I did not believe, I did come to worship, because he asked. I know where your mind might be going, and it did not happen. He did not preach a sermon directed at my doubt. His sermon, as I recall, was about Abraham, and it was painfully boring. What I do remember was seeing this: I remember seeing a once profoundly wounded, doubting Thomas of a man, stand in the front of a congregation and declare the words “I believe I God the Father almighty…” and later take the bread and say with conviction to every person who came to him to eat, “This is the body of Christ, given for you.” What I saw was a wounded man who had been healed, and at that moment the breath of the Spirit gave me peace. Was my struggle over? No. Did I have hope that God could resurrect my faith and pull me out the door of my dark and empty soul. Yes.
A lot of people get very confused. They believe that the life of faith is one that will have no wounds. Preachers on television will tell you that if only you believed hard enough, you will get money, the love of your life, and yes, even a life of peace with no hardship. Jesus promises no such thing. The life of faith will have wounds. Jesus death on the cross is clear proof of that truth. However, your wounds will not be the last word. In fact, your healed wounds have the power to heal others. Jesus had no shame in sharing his healed wounds. And, in showing his wounds, Jesus freed the disciples from their fear. Look at your hands, your side, and your heart, what healed wounds do you have? Have you ever considered sharing them with someone whose wounds are raw and bleeding? Through them, the Holy Spirit just might bring peace and salvation to someone who is trapped in a coffin of pain and fear. Healed wounds can bring peace. Just consider, you were saved by the wounds of Christ.