Scars make anonymity impossible.
Years had passed since his mast had disappeared over the horizon following Agamemenon to Troy in battle. King Odysseus left a beautiful young wife, Penelope, and an infant son, Telemanchos. For 10 years, he fought the Trojans at Troy. Then he spent the next 10 surviving the wrath of Poesidon on the seaways back home. His travel
tribulations, his apologoi (adventures) rival those that Paul tells of in 2 Corinthians 11. Twenty years of travel will change a man.
Chris Ledoux, another classicist, paraphrased Homer best: “It ain’t
age that makes me look this way/it ain’t the years boy, it’s the
Odysseus finally makes it home and finds the place in shambles. His house is overrun with men suiting his wife, eating him out of house and home, and an absent son. Taking the form of a beggar so as not to become a target, Odysseus infiltrates the palace where all this is taking place. He gains a counsel with Queen Penelope and after giving her word of Odysseus (without relinquishing his identity) she treats him like royalty asking Eurcyleia to bath him and prepare a room for him. As she washed his feet, her hand ran across a scar just above the knee. She knew it was him. It was from a boyhood boar hunt; an event many years past, but with great present value. It was the scar that announced a king’s return. He was home and the nostos was complete. Identity announced by a scar.
Scars tell the story of the men who carry them. Scars juxtapose the
current and the past. In The Old Man and the Sea, the great fisherman of many years is in the midst of a 84 day slump. Hemmingway’s
description of him contrasts his present predicament with his history: “…his hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords. But none of these scars were fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert.” A great fisherman who had fallen on
hard times as described by his scars. Scars tell a story.
“I got this one in Paris, in a war ‘fore you were born/ and this one when I was half your age, workin’ on my Daddy’s farm./ You know the way I see it, you’ve been round but you’re still green/ ‘cause tattoo’s and scars are different things.” – Montgomery Gentry
“Tattoo’s and Scars”
The presence of scars is on thing, but not all scars are made equal.
My scars tell different stories. The one on my foot will tell of
stupidity. There is not on ounce of redemption to be found in the
scar that will be on my foot. There was nothing at stake and nothing
on the line. The scar on my chest, however, came from the day that my grandfather had died. I was working above my head, taking down 2×4 braces on a garage door. It had popped loose just as we got word that grandpa was Code Blue and the exposed nail tore into my chest. That scar runs diagonally across my pectoral muscle. When I look down and see it, I see how quickly life can blindside us.
The 8” “C” shaped scar that adorns my right shin is from a bull spur.
While working a hang up at Burlington, Kansas when the bull came around to the right, sending the rider, with legs and spurs flying, in my direction and when the muddy water cleared, the crimson was running down my leg.
Everybody’s got scars and everyone has stories; but not all scars had purpose. When all three come together, scar, story, purpose, the results are life-saving. Take a fire-fighter with third-degree burn scars, the story of the collapsing building, and the lives that are still living. Think of the soldier, with the bullet wound, the ambush that was set, and his brother being pulled to safety. Think of John 20 and Revelation 5.
John 20 is a conversation between Thomas and the disciples. The
disciples had seen the resurrected Jesus, but Thomas was strangely
absent (20.24). When he does show up, the disciples let him know that
they had seen Jesus (20.25). Thomas wasn’t having it though. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand to his side, I will not believe.”(20.25b) Translation: “Let me see the scars”.
In Revelation 5, John is observing worship around the heavenly throne. When a scroll is brought forth, an Angel asks: “Who is able to open this thing?” Nobody in heaven was able to open the scroll and this was a problem. If this scroll doesn’t open, everything that has been, is, or will be, will not. So John begins to weep at the proceedings. But Jesus is found to be capable. John describes the one who approaches the throne this way: “…I saw a Lamb, looking as if it has been slain…” (Rev. 5.6)
Here the dilemma lies: the resurrection is supposed to make things right. Heaven is supposed to make things better. But Jesus bears the marks of the crucifixion; the Lamb bears the marks of sacrifice. In heaven, I wont get to look like Tom Brady or George Clooney. And I wont be given a Jimmy-Buffett-relax mentality. Reading through
Revelation, it appears that the pain of suffering will still be remembered, the scars of life will still be present, and the torment
of Earth still a reality. Though they wont be felt or experienced,
they are no less real. Why is this?
Heaven is where the perfection of the Garden of Eden was meant to be realized. Notice it was the perfection of the Garden, not the
“idleness” of the Garden. There is the prevailing mindset that we
will spend eternity floating on clouds, playing harps, and doing very little. This idea of Heaven would necessitate very little
preparation. However, should we get to Heaven where work is involved, worship is enacted, and both community and culture were cultivated; that will take us some training here. Scars are the resume of that training. Scars are the results of our learning what it means to worship, to sacrifice, to live for others. Jesus has his scars
because it was his identity, his story, and his purpose. That is why
he carries them throughout eternity.