A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” John 20: 25-26
If I were a musician, I’d just love to rearrange some of the old classic hymns; so rich in theology. Take this little (well ok, v long!) Lutheran number ‘Crown Hm with Many Crowns’. It has these incredible lines
‘Crown him the Lord of love.
Behold his hands and side,
Rich wounds, yet visible above,
In beauty glorified.’
Now, I was taught at Bible College that I should never minister from ‘open wounds’; you need to get ‘healed up’ before you can be of any purpose in that area. Nobody wants a minister who is still wrestling with sin and pain, do they? It’s a bit embarrassing. Get healed up, and then you’ll have an amazing testimony. Nobody wants someone pouring out their pain at the front of church, do they? You just can’t lead that way, people will lose confidence in you.
But of course, that’s a complete lie, isn’t it? Thomas wasn’t offered neat scars to stroke; that would have been much more palatable. After all, who on earth wants to stick their clumsy digits into that gooey mess of torn flesh and bone fragments? Ray Simpson writes in ‘The Cowshed Revolution”, ‘The Biblical doctrine of perfection is that of a wounded perfection, a scarred and imperfect perfection”. Jesus’ hands are still dripping blood, his side still oozing the brokenness of humanity. For Jesus, there is no neat healing that nicely rounds off the story; his body is still broken. In beauty, glorified.
For many, there are some wounds that will simply not heal; the loss of a child maybe, experiences of sexual abuse, torture, rape, war. So, if we do not have a theology that allows us to glorify Jesus in the midst of suffering, then our theology is merely our attempt at placing a full stop at the end of a half-finished sentence. It exists merely for our own comfort, and for the comfort of those around us.
Jesus is still suffering, simply because so are we. His wounds are still open, because so are ours. I think he simply says, ‘I’ll let you into mine, now please let me into yours’.