Marked by Love
Lately, I have been thinking about how love has a way of marking us. I remember this one day when I was feeling especially low and self-conscious about my body. I am currently sporting a mom pooch and on this particular day, I was feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. You see, I am a mom of two little boys and an angel baby. Between three pregnancies, I have been marked by every single one of them.
On this particular day, my little, sweet, loving, and super handsome sons were being silly. Silly is a constant attitude in my household. We were all being silly on that day. We were all playing with each other. Then, it happened. My oldest poked at my stomach and called it a “big tummy.” His innocent words (because he was playing and did not understand that what he was saying was hurtful) were huge knives to my mentality that day. They hurt me. They wounded me by reinforcing what I had already been feeling about myself. The worst part was that of all people, it was my young child, and the very reason for my mom pooch, who was speaking these words to me.
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He continued to poke at my belly. I went from shock to self-consciousness to self-loathing at lightning speed. I laughed with him at first and soon the tears fell from my eyes. The tears turned to sobs and my son was still lost in his silliness and unable to even notice that I was no longer having fun with him and in this moment, he acted and felt like a bully.
Read John 20:24-29
I kind of wonder if Thomas started to feel like his friends and fellow disciples were bullies. Here they were, telling Thomas that they had seen the risen Jesus. How cruel of a joke would that have felt like?! Thomas was not there when Jesus had appeared to the disciples. Thomas did not get to see Jesus with his own two eyes. Only a few days prior, Thomas had seen Jesus, crucified. He watched Jesus die and now here are his friends, claiming that Jesus was alive. Talk about an insensitive joke! Talk about "too soon!" Talk about cruel beyond words!
The Bible does not really talk too much about how Thomas felt, but I know that just reading this and imagining Thomas' perspective, I know how I would have felt! My first question is why Thomas was not there when Jesus had revealed Himself to the other disciples? Had Thomas ignored a pull in his spirit to be in that same location as the rest of his friends? Had Jesus planned it this way? Regardless of the circumstances, Thomas was not there when Jesus had shown up. After the week they had had, do you think Thomas questioned whether or not Jesus thought that he would also betray Him as Judas had? Did Thomas question whether or not He had offended Jesus in some way he just could not see?
Now all his friends are around him, claiming to have seen Jesus alive. Do you think Thomas felt left out? Did any part of Thomas believe the good news that his friends had shared? Did Thomas think they were playing the cruelest prank of all time?
I think some part of Thomas held onto the hope that Jesus had truly risen from the dead. There is a part of me that loves that Thomas pushed the issue, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe." (John 20:25 ESV) Thomas' declaration is one of intense grief, I think. He had just witnessed the worst thing imaginable when he watched Jesus die. Now he wanted face-to-face proof that the real Jesus, the one he watched die, was truly alive. He needed to see Jesus' body, marked with love.
I think one of the most beautiful parts of this whole story is that Jesus showed up just for Thomas. Jesus was not about to let Thomas swim in the pain of loss when he should have been swimming in complete joy at the miracle of Jesus' risen self. When Jesus showed up, Thomas did not need to put his fingers in those marks, he instantly recognized Who was standing in front of him. You know what else is so amazing at this? Jesus forced the issue when He encouraged Thomas to do just as he had declared in his grief and frustration. He encouraged Thomas to inspect those marks of love.
Love leaves its marks. Love’s marks look like sacrifice and faithfulness. With my own body, the marks of sacrifice and faithfulness are still visible. I bear the result of nine months of sacrificing my desires for my own body and choosing to be faithful to the mission of growing and caring for a life, in the best way I knew how. There is no shame in putting others first and in motherhood and pregnancy, it is required.
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When I think about Jesus, I can not help but think of those two scarred hands and the scar in his side. I can not help but think about how love’s marks look like sacrifice and faithfulness. He sacrificed His body to give you and me life. He stayed faithful to the mission of bringing us Home. He stayed faithful to the mission of being the perfect sacrifice that would provide the gift of eternal salvation.
You know what is so frustrating though? We see it throughout human history. We see humanity distracted from the gift of God's presence and the gift of Jesus' sacrifice. We're all guilty of this. Just like my son, we can lose sight of the price that has been paid for our life. We can get lost in silliness and distraction and forget the person in front of us that is worthy of our honor and respect. As humans and as Christians, we can find ourselves lost in the distraction of selfishness and forget the Person who is worthy of our honor and respect. Jesus is worthy of gratitude and our undivided attention! He is worthy of our love and devotion!
Have we forgotten the Treasure of the One who paid the price for our salvation? Have we forgotten how deep and unending His love is for us? Have we forgotten the sacrifice, forgotten the faithfulness, and forgotten the love and have, instead, chosen to wound the heart of Jesus? Let’s not get lost in the distraction of selfishness. Let us choose to give honor where honor is due. Let us choose to love Him in the same manner that He loves us.