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"We Must Have Thee, O Jesus of The Scars"
by Tom Goodman
May 13, 2015

When life hurts, there's nothing like talking with someone who has actually been there.  That may be the most powerful distinctive of Christianity among the world's religions.  The story of Jesus means that, when it comes to life's hurts, God has been there.

Yale professor Lamin Sanneh was raised Muslim but was drawn to Christ through reflecting on the very thing that Muslims believe did not happen to Christ: the crucifixion.  The Qur'an teaches that God spared Jesus from the agony of the cross and 'somebody else' was put in Jesus' place (4:155).  For the book, Finding God at Harvard, Sanneh writes:

As hard as I tried, I could not run from the question, 'Who died on the cross?'  If we don't know his name, how can we know the God who put him there?  But suppose Jesus did die on the cross, and suppose God intended it to be so; how would that change our knowledge of God?  I reflected on the suffering and the heartbreak which are part of life, hopes that are often dashed to pieces....  It seemed to me that deep down at the center and core of life, the cross and its anonymous burden was declaring something about the inner integrity and mystery of life which rang true to all authentic experience....  God actually did demonstrate his solidarity with humanity by visibly entering our world and defeating death itself.

Likewise, it was Christ's sufferings that restored Edward Shillito's faith after experiencing the horrors of the First World War.  Reflecting on the moment when the risen Jesus shows the scars of his crucifixion to his disciples (John 20:19-29), Shillito wrote:

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow;
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.

The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars we claim Thy grace....

The other gods were strong, but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God's wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.

If life hurts right now, trust in the One who endured life's hurts and triumphed!


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