“Wounded and Resurrected

April 7, 2013


Romans 6:1-11

Luke 24: 36-50


After the crucifixion, on the evening of the third day, Jesus stands among his followers. They are still trying to sort out what has happened.

Earlier in the day Mary Magdalene and other women came to some of Jesus’ followers. They said that after finding an empty tomb they were told that Jesus had risen from death. Luke tells us that this great good news was received with disbelief and regarded as an idle tale.

That same night two other followers of Jesus returned from the village of Emmaus. They told the others that this risen Jesus had been made known to them in the breaking of bread as they ate together.

Now as they try to figure this out, Jesus stands among these shocked and skeptical followers and says to them: “Peace be with you.”

“Peace be with you.” Ordinarily this greeting might imply a wish that peace would be restored to these frightened disciples. But this is no ordinary greeting. This is no ordinary person who speaks. The words of the risen Jesus are not a wish, but a statement of fact: “Peace is with you.”

The One who knew the human condition of pain and death speaks the word of peace—as if to say this peace will be a central experience of those who chose to follow.

To frightened hearts the risen Christ speaks a word of peace. To those who are weary he speaks of shalom—wholeness, healing.

How do his followers respond?

They are startled and terrified. They think they are seeing a ghost.

To astonished followers, the risen Christ says: “Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself.”

Look at this amazing Easter scene. The risen Christ, the wounded Christ offers himself, inviting belief.

So that there is no doubt about this peace or the One who offers it, he shows his hands and his feet which still, even in this resurrected body, bear the signs of suffering.

The risen Christ stands before his startled and terrified followers. “Look at my hands and my feet,” he tells them. “See that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

Easter comes and goes—and everything is pretty much the same.

The suffering of a war-torn world is still with us.

The gaping wound of racism is still there.

Disease and starvation still haunt children around the world.

Our own pain is still very much with us.

And look—Jesus is still wounded as well. He bears on his resurrected body the marks of suffering and death.

Dr. Paul Brand is a hand surgeon, and as such is familiar with the delicate structure of the hand and the damage that can come to it. Reflecting on the resurrection, he writes: “One of the things I find most astonishing is that, though we think of the future life as something perfected, when the risen Christ appeared to his disciples, he said, ‘Come and look at my hands.’

“Why did he want to keep the wounds of his humanity? Wasn’t it because he wanted to carry back with him an eternal reminder of the sufferings of those on earth? He carried the marks of his suffering so he could continue to understand the needs of those suffering.

“He wanted to be forever one with us.”

The risen Christ is still the wounded Christ. In one hymn we sing, “No angel in the sky can fully bear the sight.” We’re no angels, however, and so we are invited, “Look at my hands . . . my feet.”

Jesus offers himself, inviting belief.

This same Jesus whose hands were nailed to a cross has been raised to new life, still bearing the marks of suffering. Speaking of the Suffering Servant, the prophet Isaiah wrote: “He was wounded for our transgressions . . . and by his bruises we are healed.”  Look. There is something healing and life-giving that we see in the wounded, resurrected Jesus.

Now, look away from those wounds to your own life.

“Where does it hurt?” a physician asks.

“Yes. Tell me where,” says the Great Healer.

Resurrection invites us to look at our own wounds.

What is still present in your life that seeks healing?

Maybe it’s a very physical illness or injury.

Maybe it’s a damaged relationship—the marriage in trouble, the person you can’t talk with—or grief over a loss.

Maybe it’s the reality of abuse long ago—the message and memory that doesn’t go away.

The wounded, risen Christ invites us to look at our own wounds.

And also at the wounds of the world.

Where racism, sexism, and homophobia still create large gaps between people.

Where the chasm between rich and poor continues to grow.

Easter has come and gone.

The risen Christ is still wounded.

Writing about the death of baptism, Paul says: “If we have been united with Christ in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Easter comes and goes. We are not made perfect. Our own wounds are still very visible. And so perhaps we are already sharing a “resurrection like Christ’s”—a resurrection that keeps us connected to a broken and hurting world.

We, who live in hope of resurrection are still broken people in a broken world. Look at your own wounds. Their very presence is a sign that you are a participant in the new life of the resurrection.

It is the wounded, risen Christ who sends us back into the world to be agents of healing and reconciliation.

We are not left to feel sorry for ourselves and our world. We are not allowed to sit and lick our wounds. The Easter message is more like the risen Christ gently saying, “Get over it and get going.”

Central to the stunning claims of the early Christians, central to our own faith, is the affirmation that the crucified Jesus did not become some “spiritual” presence but that he was resurrected with a body.

Our peculiar good news led Anne Lamott to write: “Easter can be so embarrassing.”[1]

The wounds of crucifixion can still be seen on the Resurrected One. Not only can they be seen, it is by those wounds that the followers identify the risen Christ as Jesus.

The risen Christ is still the wounded Christ. Jesus offers himself, inviting belief.

Resurrection wounds keep Christ forever a part of this broken and hurting world. As those who live in hope of resurrection we are aware of the pain and broken places in our own lives.

The resurrection lays claim upon our lives—it might be easier to doubt and avoid that claim.

The resurrection calls us into a new way of life—fear might be the fitting response.

The risen Christ calls us out into a world in which peace is rejected, in which we are familiar more with doubt and fear than certainty and courage. Beyond our doubts and fears is the work of God begun in Christ. It is left for us to continue it.

We do not do that work alone—we have one another for support.

We do not do that work on our own strength—it is God who gives us the ability.

And we certainly won’t finish it in our own lifetime—but the resurrection is God’s promise that our labor is not in vain.

Are you beginning to see? Our respecting the innate and inalienable dignity of every human being, our seeking peace in a world that extols war, will not be warmly embraced by all. There is a risk involved in any and every act of faithfulness. We have good reason to doubt and fear.

To people caught up in joy and disbelief and astonished wonder—to us as much as to those original disciples—the risen Christ continues to offer peace, even as we are called to faithfulness in new ways.

“Look at my hands and feet,” Jesus says.

These are Easter words. They call us to answer the “No” of violence and cruelty with God’s “Yes” of life and peace.

We are what one person called “wounded healers.” We are aware of the pain and broken places in our lives. Still, with the power we receive from the wounded and resurrected Christ, let us continue to be agents of healing and reconciliation in the world.

[1] Anne Lamott, Salon April 11, 2003.