Healing in the Wounds of Christ

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely, he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all
Isaiah 53:3-6

For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Mark 10:45

We were captive to sin, but Christ is our ransom. A ransom is the price paid to release one who is held captive. Through Adam’s disobedience, mankind was held captive to sin and death. The only price that could be paid for our freedom was the sacrifice of the Jesus Christ, Second Adam.

He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.1 Peter 2:24

The Hebrew word for “sin” “ra’a” means “broken.” We were captive to brokenness. But Christ became broken for us so that we could be made whole.

Five Wounds

Jesus bore five wounds in his body as his hands, feet and side were pierced. There were five consequences of Adam’s disobedience. They are:

Deception 

Legalism

Fear

Shame

Death

 

Through Christ’s obedience and suffering each of his wounds purifies our souls and heals our brokenness. Let’s look at each one.

Deception

The first consequence of Adam’s disobedience is deception. How did sin begin? Through the deception of the serpent who is Satan, the accuser. How did Adam react? He became a deceiver and an accuser. When God confronted Adam, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then Eve had her own accusation to make, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Gen 3:11-13)

When you give into someone’s deception, you surrender your power to another. Believe the deceiver and he has power over you. Believe the devil and he has power over you. Refuse to believe his lies, and he has no power over you.

Many don’t want to believe the truth. Its not the way they were raised. They like the lie because it is comfortable. Often, the deception has the momentary pleasure of fantasy.

Mankind is still giving their authority over to the deceiver and the accuser. Even in our own thoughts we can give power to the accuser.

“God doesn’t love me.”
“I’m not good enough to pray.”
“I am bad, so I deserve to be abused.”

Jesus’ wounds broke the power of the deceiver. He sent the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth so we would be free from the power of the deceiver. Walk with the Holy Spirit, listen to his voice. Believe the Truth. Reject the lie. That is the first step in being healed of our brokenness.

Legalism

The second consequence of Adam’s disobedience is legalism. It was the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Right and Wrong. I know what you are thinking, “Isn’t it good to know right from wrong?” Let me ask you this question, “Does knowing right from wrong help you love God more? Or, your neighbor more? Or, does it give you an excuse to be proud and self-reliant?”

If you understand the law as guidelines to help you better understand how to actively love God and your neighbor, then it is a good thing. If you see the law as legalistic rules that if you obey them you can be proud of yourself, it is very bad. Remember, the story of the Good Samaritan how the priest and Levite wouldn’t stop to help the dying man because that would make them unclean. They neglected charity so they could keep the law. Those who meticulously live by the law can become proud and condemn those who break the law. But we all break the law. Some are just more obvious than others. Jesus told the Pharisees that the prostitutes and sinners would enter the Kingdom of God before them. Why? Because they know they are sinners. The pharisees commit the same sins in their minds. But since it is on the inside, they think God does not notice. They never repent. We must know we are sinners and come to God humbly in repentance.

St. Paul says, “I know who the worst sinner in the world is, and it is me.” We should all have that attitude. We may think we are righteous, but we delude ourselves.

So the Scripture says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would write the Law of God on our hearts, not in some book in black and white print. We live by the law of love in which there can be no pride.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. Romans 8:1

The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. Galatians 3:12

The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First, he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them     after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:15

Fear

After Adam sinned his first response was to clothe himself and run and hide. He became consumed by fear and shame. Let’s deal with each of those individually.

In Zechariah’s Canticle he prophesies:

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life. Luke 1:68, 74-75

The Old Testament speaks a great deal about the importance of fearing God. In the New Testament, Jesus commands us to love God. In the Old Testament the sense is that you must keep all the rules and regulations because if you don’t, God will smite you. In the New Testament we are taught that anyone who says they are without sin is a liar.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9

Jesus brought grace into the world so that we could worship God without fear. This city is full of people who will not enter a church because they believe God does not want them. They are too sinful. They try to hide from God because if God ever found them, he would smite them. They need to hear the good news, God loves them and forgives them.

The medical term for fear is anxiety. Half of all chronic illness is caused by fear.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he encouraged his disciples, “Do not be afraid.” During the storm, Jesus encouraged, “Do not be afraid.” At the transfiguration, Jesus encouraged, “Do not be afraid.” At the resurrection Jesus encouraged, “Do not be afraid.” Jesus taught them, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.Luke 12:32

Shame

Shame can drive us to jealousy. Shame can drive us to envy. Shame can drive us to anger.

Shame breaks our relationship with God and each other. It makes us withdraw into ourselves and keeps us from being able to love. I have worked with many people who have been infected with shame through abuse, sometimes very early in life. Many become emotionally frozen. It is as if their emotions are unable to grow past the point of their abuse. They have become locked by shame.

Jesus sets us free from shame.

Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. Galatians 5:19-22

When people discover Christ’s freedom in their lives, they can begin to grow. It is a journey that requires patience. If there were emotionally frozen as a child or even a young teenager, it will take years of effort for them to go through the normal stages of growth until they can begin to feel as an adult.

To help them in their journey, I often teach them this prayer:

God loves me just the way I am.
God forgives me just the way I am.
God accepts me just the way I am.
Therefore,
I love myself just the way I am.
I forgive myself just the way I am.
I accept myself just the way I am.

Walk daily in the Spirit and Christ will transform your life.

Death

The ultimate effect of original sin is death. The ultimate effect of Christ’s grace is eternal life. But eternal life does not begin when you die, it begins now. Eternal life is not just a duration, it is a quality of life. It is a life that is free from fear, shame, deception, and self-destruction. Why do we do things that are bad for us? Are we trying to see how slowly we can commit suicide? We become addicted to self-destructive behavior because we have submitted to deception, fear, and shame.

Sin is death. It is usually a slow death. God saves us from sin and death because sin by definition is self-destruction. God doesn’t give us commandments and tell us what sin is so he can have a reason to punish us, but because he knows these behaviors are bad for us.

The commandments lead us to life. They lead us to joy. This is especially obvious when we see them in relation to Christ’s commandments.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

All the other commandments are just practical instructions on how to better love God and our neighbor. We don’t pursue the idols of this world because we love God. We don’t steal from our neighbor because we love our neighbor. We don’t covet and entertain jealousy because we love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Jealousy not only damages our relationship with our neighbor, it damages our own soul and causes us to spend our time, energy, affection, and money on worthless things.

But Christ conquered death. He rose from the grave and gave us eternal life. We have no need to become consumed with the temporal things of this life when we can enjoy the beauty of the resurrection in eternity.

Why Did Jesus Have to Suffer in This Way

The author of Hebrews states that Jesus was tempted in every way that we are, but without sin. He was not just tempted to sin. Christ experienced every temptation, including every disappointment, every sadness, every rejection, even every abuse that we experience so that whatever we go through in life, Jesus says, “I understand. I’ve been there before. I am there with you now.” He faced all our troubles, our grief, our heartaches and never shrank back from his destiny to bear the wounds that heal our brokenness.

He was rejected by his hometown.
He was betrayed by his closest friend.
He was falsely accused by those who should have protected him.
He was beaten by those he loved.
He was stripped naked and hung out in the open for all to see.
He was executed by those he forgave.

Turn to the wounds of Christ for the healing of your brokenness. He understands. He has been there before. He is there with you now.

Christ Bears His Wounds in Eternity

The wounds Christ bore he took with him into glory. Saint Bede notes that Christ showed his wounds to the apostles to confirm them in their faith. Through his glorified wounds Christ gave them hope for the bodily resurrection. “

Christ has risen from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also comes resurrection of the dead1 Corinthians 15:20-21.

Being assured of our hope, we will not fear suffering and death. We can face the trials and temptations of this life and live victoriously with the hope of our resurrection.

Rejoice, in so far as you are partakers of the sufferings of Christ, that you may also rejoice with exultation in the revelation of His glory!” 1 Peter 4:12-13

And, Saint Augustine adds that Jesus took his wounds into glory because they proclaim his victory. Like the battle scars of a victorious warrior, Christ’s wounds are the proof of triumph.

As we reflect on the wounds of Christ. As we meditate upon his passion. As we embrace his suffering. As we obediently surrender to his will. We too, can know the healing power of his wounds and share in the joy of his resurrection.

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