For the Hearts Together closing devotional thought, CUW Theology Chair Rev. Dr. Daniel Paavola reflects on the strange path to peace that Christ endured for us: peace through the blood of the cross.

“When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’” John 20:20-21

Do people show you their scars? After they get out of surgery or home from the clinic, do they feel compelled to show you where they got the vaccination shot, where the bandages were, or how red the scar still is?  I’m not sure why, but people have shown me a wide range of these marks, scars, and bandages.

What do you say when you see those bandages and stitches? “Ouch!” “That’s too bad.” “Oh, my, I didn’t expect that!” “Does it still hurt?” All these make sense and they show your compassion to others.

But what about this? Would you look at someone’s wounds, wounds that are still open, and be happy? In fact, you’re rejoicing! That’s the reaction of the disciples when they saw Jesus and his wounds. What a strange celebration the disciples had. Of course, the wounds of Jesus brought no joy in themselves but only the painful memory of what he had suffered. But he was there with them and the wounds proved it was real.

The wounds of Jesus were a testimony to the past and the present. Jesus wasn’t there as a figment of their past memory. He was there, with wounds only three days old, but now alive in the present as no ghost or memory would be. Only God could bear those fatal wounds and still be alive in their midst. What a combination of true God and true man he was at that moment. Wounded as only a man could be, and yet, despite those wounds, alive as only God could be.

And peace was his message. The message from those wounds was the same as Paul would say in Colossians 1:20 where he wrote that God made peace through the blood of the cross. What a strange path for peace. We kill the Son of God, and God, in response, announces peace to the world. The revenge that we might expect is never spoken but only the peace that comes from his wounds. That’s the message that endures from seeing his scars.

Prayer: Our Heavenly Father, thank you for the message of peace that comes even from the wounds of Jesus. You could have sought justice and vengeance for the death of your Son, but instead you announced peace to the world. Help us to believe those words of peace, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

—Rev. Dr. Daniel Paavola is chair of CUW’s theology department. He has served as a professor of theology since 1996, was the pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Butternut, Wisconsin from 1984 to 1996, and before that, he grew up on a dairy farm in west central Minnesota.

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the spring 2022 issue of Hearts Together, a Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor special magazine edition. The spring issue hit mailboxes in May. View a PDF version of the magazine here

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