So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But (Thomas) said to them, “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
Why did the risen Christ appeared to the disciples with wound marks on His hands and side? The rest of Him certainly did not bear any marks of the horrific death He had endured. The Bible seems to paint a picture of Jesus resurrected in perfect health, wearing clean clothing and even desiring something to eat—not surprising after His violent death! Even outside the tomb on Easter morning, when the women mistook Him for the gardener, Christ looked for all the world like He had just risen from a good night’s rest. When He suddenly appeared in the Upper Room, where the eleven were hiding, He first said, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). Then He showed them His hands and His side, seemingly as proof not only that He had been raised from the dead, but that that He had indeed been cruelly executed as His beloved followers watch.
History has made much of poor Thomas’s reaction when the others told him of Jesus’s appearance in his absence. “I am not buying any of this nonsense,” Thomas said (my translation), “unless I can actually see the nail holes in His hands and the gash in His side.”
Perhaps Jesus shows His wounds to help us see that brokenness can be a starting point. The terror I experienced following a sexual violence attack was shameful to me at the time. The assault I endured was met with skepticism and even blaming by more than one law enforcement officer, an insensitive emergency room doctor, and yes, family members who could not “hear” what I was trying to tell them. Memory of trauma is not linear, like studying for an important exam and recalling the answers just when you need them. Trauma survivors are revisited by random memories that can wreak havoc with a perfectly normal day. Seeing Jesus as our “wounded healer” is immensely comforting. Christ’s wounds make the promise of His divine peace and healing all the more believable.
Lord, come to us now and share our pain so we may heal. Amen
Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has worked with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and war veterans. Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .