There is an ancient Israelite and Jewish holiday called Yom Kippur, or the “Day of Atonement.” Back when the temple still existed, the priest sacrificed one goat on an altar and sent a second goat into the wilderness.
The second goat has always fascinated me. According to the Torah, the high priest was commanded to put his hands on the head of the goat, confess Israel’s sins, and transfer them to the goat. When that was done, he would send the goat out into the wilderness never to be seen again. This is where we get the term scapegoat.
But what is fascinating is Jesus wrapped up all these traditions in Himself, and that scapegoat was only a shadow. The real things is Jesus.
We are called to take the deepest, darkest, hardest sins of ours — ones we have committed and ones that have been done against us — and reach out our hands and put them on Jesus. On the cross Jesus was both the sacrifice and the scapegoat. He took our sins into the grave, as the goat took them into the wilderness.
The beautiful part is, once we transfer them to Jesus, He leaves them in the grace, resurrects, and shuts the door to death behind Him. We have new life now. We have peace and forgiveness. We are new creations.
Have you had that moment? Have you leaned in and put that weight on Jesus? Are you tired yet? Tired of the shame, guilt, and game we have to play to keep it all together? He wants it, He takes it, and He defeats it.
And notice, too, that when Jesus comes out the other side, in the resurrection, His wounds are no longer wounds.
They are scars.
They have been healed. While many of us see scars as a weakness, if Jesus has scars after the resurrection, then maybe they’re not. Maybe scars make us truly human. They show we’ve lived. They tell our story. Without our scars we might not be the same people, but praise God they are no longer wounds.
This is illustrated perfectly after Jesus rises from the dead and interacts with Thomas, also known as the doubting disciple. His friends were telling Thomas that Jesus had risen, but Thomas didn’t believe them. “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into His side, I will never believe.”
Eight days later, Jesus and Thomas finally see each other. Jesus doesn’t rebuke Thomas and tell him to believe harder. He doesn’t tell him to read more apologetics books. He doesn’t say, “Just have faith.” He says, “Put your finger here and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
The answer to Thomas’s doubt was Jesus telling Thomas to reach out and touch Him. To feel His scars.
It’s almost as if Jesus’ scars were what proved His humanity. Made Him real in that moment.
Many times we miss Jesus because we try to muster intellectual rigour or arguments in our darkest times, but Jesus simply says, “Touch Me.” There’s intimacy there. There’s Jesus saying in our pain, “I know. Look at My scars.” He had experienced death, but He had also experienced resurrection.
And so can we. A resurrection from our past with our wounds and hurts healed (See blog for March 28, 2022). And a resurrection to new life, freedom, and victory right here and right now. Not to mention a resurrection from physical death which was also defeated on the cross.