TOUCH AND SEE
The broken places are often where we resonate with Jesus
Peace be with you. Peace be with you. Peace be with you. Three times Jesus speaks these words to his friends. His terrified friends. His weary friends. His tired and uncertain friends. Locked in a room. Peace be with you. Peace be with you. Peace be with you. Hearing it like that really makes us listen. Jesus really means what he is saying.
Jesus knew his friends were not at ease. That they were afraid for their lives, for their safety and survival. They had just witnessed him, their Lord, crucified as a common criminal. They saw his body hanging there; they saw the crown of thorns on his head; the nails in his hands. They saw the spear pierce his side and saw him breathe his last. And they knew they weren’t safe. Peace be with you. Peace be with you. Peace be with you. Hearing it like that really makes us listen. Jesus really means what he is saying.
Today’s gospel is one my favorite passages in all of Scripture. A risen, wounded Jesus comes to his friends to give them peace because he knows they’re scared. He comes to give them the Holy Spirit because he knows they need strength, and courage, and wisdom, and guidance. He comes to send them back out into the world that just crucified him.
I imagine that this was an extremely tender reunion for Jesus and his friends. They loved one another—deeply, profoundly. They lived, and worked, and shared meals together. He washed their feet; he died for them. And I can only imagine how incredible the disciples must have felt when they realized that it was their beloved friend, their courageous Lord Jesus standing before them.
And how did they know it was Jesus? How did they recognize him? By his wounds. Through his wounds. And not only by seeing his wounds, but through touching them. “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side.”
But why? Why did Jesus invite his friends to touch his wounds? I know all of you have had a wound or two or three in your life. I certainly have. And one thing we never do is touch wounds. In fact, we are told and tell others—don’t touch! Don’t touch because it hurts—hurts a lot!
I of course, don’t have an exact answer. And I am sure there are many possible answers. But I think Jesus asks his friends to touch his wounds, because he wants them to find themselves there, in his wounds. “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side.” Touch my wounds because you will find yourself there!
Jesus knew that his friends were deeply wounded. Deeply scarred. And scared. And totally unsure of what to do with their wounds, and scars, and brokenness. And by asking them to find themselves in his wounds, Jesus is reassuring them, giving them comfort. And encouragement. And peace.
Keep going forward Jesus tells them—in fact, I am sending you out with the power of the Holy Spirit to continue the mission that I came to start. Wounded-ness isn’t a problem! Brokenness isn’t a problem! Your scars aren’t a problem! Look! See and Touch! My body holds your brokenness and your wounds and your scars.
So don’t be afraid that you are wounded and scarred and broken. Don’t be afraid and go out with good courage to forgive others and let them forgive you too. Don’t be afraid and go out with good courage and tell the world that there is life after death, and that life is meant for the whole world!
In November of 2013, Lee Ann Yanni and her husband Nicholas were standing at the finish line of the Boston marathon, there to support others. They were victims of the sinful, horrifying bombings that took place that day that claimed lives and left many scarred. Lee Ann’s left leg was torn apart, she lost two leg muscles, sustained nerve damage and ruptured an eardrum. Nicholas completely lost his hearing and remains deaf to this day.
Today, Lee Ann points to her scars, after several surgeries, and remembers that horrible day that changed them forever. But along with her husband, Lee Ann has responded to this horror by continuing to live. They’ve gone back out into the world, despite their fears, despite their scars and wounded-ness and brokenness. And together, Lee Ann and her husband run the Boston marathon each year. They run through that finish line together, wounded but alive, scarred but fearless, broken but always being made whole. Once a site of horror and death, the finish line is now a place of strength and resilience—a place of resurrection.
Peace be with you. Peace be with you. Peace be with you. Hearing it like that really makes us listen. Jesus really means what he is saying.
I know that many of you, if not all of you, can relate to the disciples today. Terrified. Weary. Fearful. Struggling with loss. Uncertain of what is to come. Not sure what the future will bring.
And so these words of Jesus are for you: peace be with you. Peace be with you. Peace be with you.
Jesus is here. Present among us: we who are wounded and scarred and broken. And today Jesus breathes his spirit upon us—to give us comfort. To give us relief. To give us strength. And courage. And grace. And mercy. And a way forward.
And what is that way forward? LIFE! Life is the way forward. That is what Jesus is really showing his friends—that life is the way forward. That death does not have the last word; that death has been swallowed up, defeated forever; and even when we experience death, life is still the way forward—the only way forward. Wounded but alive. Scarred but fearless. Broken but always being made whole again.
It has only been one week since Easter. So let us be consumed with Easter joy today because Easter lasts for 50 days—50 days to celebrate as a community that God has freed us from sin and death and given us new life in Christ Jesus. Sisters and brothers, may the peace of Christ Jesus, the peace that surpasses all understanding, the peace that can only come from God be with you all.
Rev. Nicholas Sollom