(Jesus) said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” John 20:27 (NRSV)
Wycliffe Bible Translators tells of a tribal group in the Philippines where the men traditionally burned a series of scars on the forearms of boys when they were quite young. Their belief was that when they died, they would need these scars to cross over to the new life.
To get to the other world, their spirits would need to cross over a bottomless pit on a bamboo bridge. As they walked over this treacherous crossing, they believed, the spirit owner of the bridge would try to scare them in order to cause them to lose their footing and fall into the abyss below. These people believed that the scars on their forearms would become lights that would light their way and prevent them from falling.
By the time missionaries had arrived to translate the Bible into their language group, many from this group had already become Christians. One day, one of the translators noticed that the youngest boys were no longer getting burns on their arms.
“Where are your scars?” she asked one of them.
Before the boy could answer, his mother replied, “Oh, he doesn’t need those scars. He has trusted Jesus. When he reaches the bamboo bridge, Jesus himself is going to meet him and light the way. Jesus has his own scars.”
It’s an important point for all of us to remember that when we see Jesus face-to-face, we will see him with the scars from the nail holes and the spear wound. Resurrection has not undone the crucifixion.
We proclaim a risen Savior who is still “Christ crucified.” (I Corinthians 1:23)
As Peter writes, “ . . . by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
He alone has lit our way. And “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” (Romans 10:11)