Written by Leslie Schmidt
Look at your hands. Do you have any scars? If not there, do you have any elsewhere on your body? Maybe your scar is the result of a surgical procedure. Whatever the case, a scar will appear when skin has been injured and then heals. I found a scar on one of my wrists from an encounter with a hot oven.
But enough about visible scars. I’ve been thinking about scars of another kind. Mainly, scars in the deepest part of us; they are the invisible scars on our souls. These are the places where we were forgiven for sinful disobedience and granted God’s grace and mercy. Although not seen by others, these scars remind me of the places where my Savior’s love and forgiveness was paramount. And as if forgiveness isn’t enough, the Lord uses the remembrance of my soul’s scars to bear witness of Him in kingdom work.
Let’s consider our brother and fellow disciple, Peter. He was the disciple who promised that he would never deny Jesus. Never say never, for in the dark hours prior to Good Friday, he yielded to his sinful nature – just as Jesus had said he would – and the deed was done. This man who had previously spoken such profound truth, “you are the Christ…the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16), now found himself in torment and agony of spirit. Was Jesus done with him? Is He done with you or me when we yield to sinful disobedience? No! Praise God that He is not. There is ALWAYS a place to begin with Him.
After Jesus’ resurrection, he made many appearances to His followers. Chapter 21 of the Gospel of John describes the account of Peter and other disciples out on the Sea of Galilee. While they were at sea Jesus stood on the shore, unrecognized by these fishermen: His disciples. Peter had been fishing all night with no luck at all; not a single fish had been caught. Was the absence of fish the only thing on Peter’s mind? Or, was he trying to find peace and quiet as many fishermen do — a place where he could think through the events of the previous days? Was his recent betrayal first and foremost on his mind? With each drop and return of an empty net, did Peter’s mind go back over and over again the merciful words Jesus had shared with him and the other disciples during the years of His earthly ministry? Could he really be forgiven for betraying Jesus?
As this obscure figure on the beach calls to the men in the boat, a floodgate of blessing pours out. With just a brief verbal exchange there is recognition of their Savior… “It is The LORD!” A bountiful haul of fish lies behind Peter as he swims to the shore and is invited to “come and have breakfast.” Can you picture this scene? Here is the man who denied he ever knew Jesus and now stands before Him, probably dripping wet, being asked to come to breakfast. Was Jesus serious? Why would he want to share something as personal as a meal with him? God’s unconditional love transcends the love a man is capable of. Before He ascended to heaven, Jesus wanted to assure Peter of His grace, love and forgiveness. Thus, in this intimate setting, He asks Peter multiple questions about love.
Peter was now a humbled man who would no longer compare himself to others. He received the Lord’s charge to continually love, feed, protect and direct His flock in Word and Sacrament. When I read this section of Scripture, I picture Jesus sitting with Peter sharing words of life. I see His hands – sometimes folded, other times touching Peter’s shoulder – and then in motion as He conveys truth. The scars on Jesus’ hands are so plain to see; visible scars of His taking my sin and your sin as He stretched out his hands and arms in love and was nailed to a tree. He did this so that the scars of our soul would never be seen by others: only by Him.
Amy Carmichael, in her book, Toward Jerusalem, wrote a poem entitled, No Scar?
Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent by ravening wolves that compassed Me, I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?
No wound? no scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole: can he have followed far
Who has nor wound nor scar?
Time heals our bodily wounds and time fades our external scars. But spiritual scars, although forgiven, do not fade; they are vivid reminders of my past sins — ones that I do not want repeated again. But more important than this, these scars serve as the place where, just like Peter, I too can have the same intimate communion with my Savior. I am loved, forgiven, restored and raised to newness of life so that I may also continue to serve Jesus. What a God! What a Savior!
Hast thou no scar? Ah-h-h, may our spirits cry, “Yes!”