“…I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…” (Rev. 5:6). “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude… standing before the throne and before the Lamb…and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’…’Blessing and glory and honor… for ever and ever!’ Amen” (Rev. 7:9-10,12 RSV)
When Jesus appears to his disciples following his resurrection, he is still bearing the wounds of his suffering and death. In fact, he uses these wounds to prove to the disciples that he is not a ghost, that he is embodied. He can be touched, he can eat. Yet this is a different sort of body – one which can enter through locked doors, or be somewhere and be instantly elsewhere. It is, indeed, a glorious Body, more suited to heaven than to earth.
On earth, those wounds were hideous, hard to even think of, let alone look at. Remember the film version of “The Passion of the Christ”? Most of us had to close our eyes to the horror of even the film version of the crucifixion, that most brutal, humiliating and cruel form of execution. Yet in Heaven, these same wounds are glorious, even beautiful! Why? Because of the perfect Love which chose freely to endure them for us, for perfect Love is beautiful, wondrous, and praiseworthy.
Our Savior’s wounds remain, reminding us of the sins which caused them: our failures to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and love our neighbor as ourself. Our Savior’s wounds remain, to remind us of the vast, unlimited mercy which flows from those wounds, from that pierced Heart. Our Savior’s wounds even remain in Heaven after his Ascension to his glorious throne at the right hand of God: the Lamb who reigns eternally bears the wounds of Love.
And that is why they are glorious – why they glow with the light of God like precious jewels, why they are praised and lauded by all the heavenly hosts. Love has transformed those wounds from hideous to holy; from excruciating to excellent; from death dealing to life giving.
What about my “wounds”, my suffering? Most of the time, I experience these as simply painful and sometimes humiliating experiences I wish to escape from and forget if I can. Is it possible for my wounds to be transformed like those of my Savior’s?
When I allow my wounds, my suffering, to be joined to His through my choice to love as He did, that is, self sacrificially, then my wounds can become beautiful too. When I choose, for love of my Savior, to forgive “seventy times seven ” instead of lashing back in anger; when I “pray for (my) enemies and bless them” instead of blaming, belittling or criticizing them; when I forego complaint and think of others’ needs instead of just my own discomfort, my wounds can begin to be transformed. His grace flows through me as I choose, in little ways, to take up my “cross” of everyday suffering and follow Him in the way of love. It is a process, something to practice, day in and day out. He takes the little I give Him and makes it big – big through Love.