Galatians 6:17 -From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
It’s amazing to me how I can read the Bible and after so many years, and so many times reading it, can find something interesting, something that stands out or speak to me, as if I have never read it before. Such was the case with this scripture.
I wrote a blog on the thorn in Paul’s flesh during my first year of blogging. I’ve often wondered how people read that and feel that Paul was referring to some sickness that would not go away. And when I read this chapter, I often wondered why Paul said that the Galatians would have plucked out their eyes to give to him (4:16). But as I read it a couple nights ago, I had a different thought that I wanted to share with you.
For some reason when I read this scripture I thought of the famous picture of the slave that was flogged, and how they had photographed his back to show the marks of his beatings. It resembles vines to me. And I don’t even want to think about the pain he obviously endured.
As I read the above verse, and I thought of this picture, it was if I understood these words and what Paul was trying to convey. Let me explain:
In 2 Corinthians 11:23, Paul shares a long list of many of the things he suffered. Things that are not talked about in detail in the Bible. But Paul mentions that he was beaten by the Jews five times with 39 lashes, three times he was beaten with rods, and he was even stoned. Look at this man’s back. We are clueless as to how many times he was whipped, but the scars are there, evidence of what he had to bear.
After Jesus was beaten, before His crucifixion, it is said of Him that there was no beauty in Him that we should desire Him (Isaiah 53). What do you suppose that Paul looked like after 5 beatings with cords, three beatings with rods, and a stoning? I would say, that he was scarred pretty badly. Especially immediately following one of these beatings when he was probably bloody, swollen, and barely able to move. I can well imagine if you had seen him after one of these beatings, you would have turned away from looking at him, as would most people. As they did to Jesus! And if you knew him, you would have wanted to offer him whatever you could, even you eyes, if you thought it would ease the pain that he was carrying.
When he was stoned, dragged out of the city, and thrown outside the gates, because they thought he was dead; he had to be pretty bad off. But the disciples gathered around him, and probably prayed, and God raised him up!
Even in that, he was probably pretty scarred up. And in his thinking, I am sure, for him, they were the marks of Christ that he bore in his body. Marks, that in some ways, caused others to be offended by his presence, but marks that were a testament of the sufferings he endured for the Lord, sufferings Jesus warned him about. (See Acts 9:13).
I believe Paul’s body was healed multiple times by the Lord, but that doesn’t mean that He removed the scars from His body. Could He have done that? Yes, of course He could! But did He do that? I’m not so sure.
If you read Galatians from beginning to end, this book’s theme could easily be about circumcision as we know it was the mark of Judaism. But in this verse, Paul is basically stating that he doesn’t want to keep answering to circumcision when he carries the marks of Jesus in his body.
Someone once said to me that they wanted to have a scripture tattooed on their body so that people would know that they loved Jesus. But the word says that God will write them in our hearts. (Hebrews 8:10) We don’t need to intentionally mark up our bodies to show that we love and honor God. But sometimes, scars are left after the battle!
You see, I got to thinking about the scars, or marks of the Lord Jesus that we as Christians can bear. I would venture to say that those who are persecuted for their faith in Pakistan, Russia, Syria, Tanzania, India and many other countries, could easily identify with Paul. They too have suffered greatly for the faith in the Lord. They have hidden in secret meetings to have fellowship. They have been dragged out of their homes, thrown into prison, beaten, killed, stoned, and all sorts of heartrending experiences for the cause of Christ. But I have no such story, no such pain. So I won’t belittle what they experience and try to glorify what I have experienced to say that I too bear marks in my body for the gospel! I salute their courage in the face of adversity and their stand for the Lord! May God send protecting and ministering spirits to assist them in their walk!
But the scars in my soul I can talk about! And maybe, just maybe you can identify with them both! It is for you, my fellow believers around the world, who know firsthand what Paul went through, because you are living it every day, that I write this blog. I am thinking of you, praying for you this day! And I just wanted to take some time and let you know that you are not forgotten! You are on the Father’s heart, and He has placed you on the hearts of so many others! Be encouraged and stand in the faith! Wonderful Jesus!