|Volume 19 Number 11 November 2017||
Mark T. Tonkery
Some years ago on a hot summer day in south Florida, a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks and shirt as he went. He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore. His mother in the house was looking out the window and saw the two as they got closer and closer together. In utter fear, she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could. Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his mother.
It was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him. From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began an incredible tug-of-war between the two. The alligator was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go. A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator. Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal, and on his arms were deep scratches where his mother’s fingernails dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved. The newspaper reporter who interviewed the boy after the trauma asked if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. Then with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, “But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my Mom wouldn’t let go” (source unknown).
Scars can come in all shapes and sizes, some are physical and many are emotional or mental. Scars are not pretty, but they are a part of us, and they usually never fade away. Many scars tell a story; they remind us of a difficult time, remind us of pain or remind us of brokenness. Scars may also remind us that we survived and remind us of a time of healing; they remind us of God’s faithfulness and that we overcame.
After our Lord’s death on the cross, He arose from the grave on the third day. Jesus, then, appeared to many of His disciples, but for some reason Thomas was not present when Jesus first appeared. John 20:24-29 tells us that Thomas would not believe in the resurrected Christ unless he saw Christ’s scars. We read later that Jesus did appear to Thomas and revealed His scars.
The scars of Christ told the story of how He had been crucified, pierced and died. With all the pain of those scars, they also proved to Thomas that Jesus had arisen from the grave. Afterward, Thomas realized God’s faithfulness and finally believed that our Lord had risen.
Today, we cannot physically see the scars of Jesus. However, in John 20:29, Jesus stated “… Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
We are blessed, too, by the scars of Jesus even though we cannot see them; we can still believe. How? Romans 10:17 teaches, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” By reading and studying the Bible, the Word of God, we can have great faith that Jesus’ scars were real and that He has risen from the grave. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 that the most important message we could ever hear and believe is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus saved us from our sins, and His scars tell the story of His death, burial and resurrection. This being true, Romans 6:3-6 reminds that because of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, we can be cleansed of all our sins when we imitate the death, burial and resurrection in baptism. Only then are we raised to a new life in Christ. The scars of Jesus tell a wonderful story of love and salvation. Yet, many will ignore the scars of Jesus. What will you do?
Ronald D. Reeves
Every Christian has been a new convert at one time. Yes, each member of the body of Christ should understand the process that new converts experience and also appreciate the challenges associated with being a new convert. Simply put, new converts are truly a challenge and a blessing. They challenge us to (1) take the Gospel to our community (Mark 16:15-16), (2) employ our abilities (Matthew 25:14ff) and to acquire and apply biblical knowledge (John 5:39) to be able to take the Gospel to them, and (3) formulate a spiritual growth plan that will assist them in their quest of spiritual growth (2 Peter 3:18). As a blessing, they (1) are a living example of the power of God’s Word to actively and effectively work in the lives of misguided people (1 Timothy 4:12), (2) motivate brethren to renew one’s spiritual fervor (Romans 12:11), and (3) remind each of us of the past joy of personal salvation and thereby re-energize our spiritual hope (2 Peter 1:3). Yes, new converts are a vital force in local congregations. We thank the Lord for our new converts and trust that we will all work cooperatively as we endeavor to bring more new converts into the church of our Lord.