Scar Stories

“Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead.” Mark 8:31

As my head hit the table, there was a loud crack and a lot of blood.

It started out as a fun night with friends. I had just gotten home from spring break and was excited to catch up with everyone. We got dinner, hung out around town, played catch in the park, went back to one of our houses to watch movies, and wound up spending the night.  Saturday morning, I had a meeting across town and needed to head out early. As we all woke up a little groggy and disappointed that our reunion had to end, one miss timed slap on the back sent me flying forward and into the coffee table by the couch.

As my head hit the table, there was a loud crack and a lot of blood.

“He said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but three days later he will rise from the dead.’ They didn’t understand what he was saying, however, and they were afraid to ask him what he meant.” Mark 9:31-32

Over the course of the day, I began to feel totally maimed and ashamed. The bloody nose had stopped but my forehead kept bleeding. My eye had turned black, and my nose had swollen up like a hot air balloon. As I stared at my scarred face, I felt broken.

Just like picturing a night out with friends, we often hold a picture of what a perfect life looks like. We think that we should have certain jobs. We should hang out with certain people. Our family should do certain things together. We should make a certain amount of money. We should go on certain vacations. We assume that our lives will be fulfilled with happiness, joy, and success everywhere we go. We want it to be perfect. We don’t plan on a lot of blood.

As we are approaching holy week, we are coming up on the part of the gospel that gets bloody. It starts out with the perfect reunion as Jesus rides into Jerusalem, but it gets a little messy after that. From betrayal to denial, from lashings to a cross, God’s plan for salvation is one of the messiest in history. I think this tells us a lot about God. God isn’t a perfectionist. He doesn’t promise to keep it neat and tidy.

“‘Listen,’ he said, ‘we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.’” Matthew 20:17-19

When life gets messy it’s easy to dwell on it. It’s easy to beat ourselves up or assign blame. But while it is comfortable to stay at home, play it safe, and pretend to be perfect, the Easter story shows us that hanging out with God means we are going to get scarred. Following Jesus takes us out of the boat, up the mountain, and to a crucifixion.

And it’s the experiences in life that give us scars that make us who we are. It’s the times we get hurt that help us to grow. It’s the friends that push us that show us what we are made of. It’s the times we feel broken where God shows up to do big things.

Luckily, the story of Easter doesn’t end with pierced hands and bleeding wounds. It ends with resurrection and hope. It ends with the promise that every pain, every sorrow, and every scar will be healed and washed away.

Zach Herzog

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