Healed by His Wounds

March 31, 2010 at 9:11 am Leave a comment

I wrote this for a joint-between-area-churches midweek service. My boss was scheduled to preach, but was then called away to a funeral. This probably isn’t what he would have written, though it is based on his chosen text, and his title.

1 Peter 2:21-25

For to this you have been called, because Christ aslo suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.
‘he comitted no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.’
When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the corss, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned tot he shepherd and guardian of your souls.

This week- this Holy Week. The word itself evokes a strong sense of things Spiritual, Numinous, Other-worldly.

And yet, this week of all weeks, this Holy Week, it is exactly the this-worldly, incarnate, tangible body that we recall and honour. The body of Jesus of Nazareth, bathed in Mary of Bethany’s expensive perfume. The body of Jesus of Nazareth, perched atop a borrowed donkey The body of Jesus of Nazareth, honoured with palm branches and cloaks thrown down before him. The body of Jesus of Nazareth, feasting in Passover celebration. The body of Jesus of Nazareth, bent low over the feet of his disciples. The body of Jesus of Nazareth, wracked in prayer, “let his cup pass from me”. The body of Jesus of Nazareth, abused, judged, beaten, spat-upon, humiliated, destroyed.

The body of Jesus of Nazareth, revealing and making manifest the presence of God among God’s people.

Now, this is nothing new, in the ancient world. Zeus was recognizable by his middle-aged head on a youthful, athletic body. Apollo spend time as a shepherd. Isis and Osiris knew life and death on the banks of the Nile. A God in human form is nothing new.

And so it is known what a God looks like, when in human form. The human body of a God is a strong body; a powerful body (and so almost always a male body); a beautiful body. These are the sorts of bodies that are closest to Dvinity. God-like bodies.

It is this sort of God-like body that is honoured as it enters Jerusalem. Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed be the one who comes with strength and power to save us.

But neither Zeus nor Apollo nor Osiris are the God revealed and made manifest in the body of Jesus of Nazareth.

This body reveals its Divinity, not in strength and power, but in weakness and vulnerability. This body reveals its Divinity first as an infant, helpless- honoured only by outcasts and foreigners. This body reveals its Divinity as it is abused, judged, beaten, spat-upon, humiliated, destroyed.

This body reveals and makes manifest a God to whom we do not grow closest in our strength, but in our vulnerability; a God who is most present among us not in power, but in frailty; a God who is acutely and intimitely concerned with humanity- all of humanity- and the realities that we encounter in these bodies.

Weak bodies. Powerless bodies. Hungry bodies. Cold and exposed bodies. Vulnerable bodies. Sick, and dying, and grieving bodies. Abused, judged, beaten, spat-upon, humiliated bodies. There is Divinity there. If we would honour the God revealed to us in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, let us honour him there.

The God revealed and made manifest in the body of Jesus of Nazareth is aGod who knows birth, and death, and all the life that happens in between. He himself bre our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness. And by his wounds, we have been healed.

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Entry filed under: Incarnational, Sacerdotal.

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