Jesus showed them His hands and His side…[and] said to them again, “Peace to you! John 20:20
This story in the life of the first disciples of Jesus is both haunting and hopeful. I know that sentence sounds strange, but it is still true.
Their future was before them and it was exciting. But that was seven days earlier when the thirty-three-year-old Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem and the crowds were singing his praises. On this night, however, they were fearful, uncertain, and hopeless. Their hopes had been brutalized on an instrument of torture and execution. On this night they were huddled together with the doors locked, the windows shuttered, and a lookout posted. On this night they were certain that every clamor of metal on the street below meant that soldiers with swords, shields, and spears were coming to arrest them.
They had possessed such grand hopes just days earlier about the coming of the Kingdom of God. Now those hopes lay on a cold slab somewhere. They must have wondered about how the Kingdom of God was going to come into the world now that Jesus was dead and gone.
And yet, while cowering in fear in that upper room, Jesus appeared in the midst of them. It must have scared them deeply because the first words Jesus said to them was “Peace be with you.” When you are so afraid that you have locked the doors and windows and a phantom of a friend you saw die materializes before your very eyes, I suppose peace would be very necessary because that would be haunting to anyone.
But then Jesus extended his hands to reveal the nail-holes in his wrists and lifted his robe to show a jagged open wound in his side and they knew this was no ghost. This person is their living, breathing, and locked-door-defying friend from Nazareth. They were ecstatic! Jesus tells them again, “Peace be with you.”
Have you ever lost hope and found despair?
There was a time I thought my life was over. I was forty-one and could not see a future. I was so broken, shattered, and lost I was sure that I would never know peace again. I needed to feel the peace of his presence.
One day I was at a bookstore thumbing through an art book and came across a form of art that gave me hope. It’s from Japan and called Kintsugi. It is a process that restores cracked vessels or broken ceramics with gold, leaving the piece even more beautiful than it started out.
The word Kintsugi is Japanese for ‘golden joinery’. The idea behind it is not to hide the ugliness and brokenness but instead to use gold to make it shine; to illuminate and expose the damage. And at the end of the process, the piece is even more beautiful having been broken.
That art reminds me of a stanza from a Leonard Cohen poem that says,
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
What I had to offer Jesus would never be a “perfect offering.” Besides, He did not want my talent, gifting, or abilities. Jesus just wanted me, my wounds, and brokenness. They are his medium. They are his canvas, his clay, his art.
They are his specialty.
Just as the wounds of Jesus were the cracks in which the grace of God came into the world and healed me of my sin-disease, my wounds, and my weaknesses; my scars are the cracks through which Jesus’ resurrection grace will leak out into the darkness. It is his peace that is the mortar that holds my broken life together and brings resurrection art into the world.
So, no matter what you have done in your past or what you have failed to do, no matter the sins, even the self-inflicted ones, bring your brokenness to Jesus and receive his breath of peace into your life.
For his woundedness and our brokenness is his art.
He uses both in this dark world.
That’s how the light gets in.