After Easter (Post Resurrection)
Wounded and Rising
by Margaret Manning
One of the most terrifying and deeply troubling news stories of the past few
years has been one that has escaped broad notice by the Western media. It is the
story of extreme and widespread violence against women in Eastern Congo. Raped
and tortured by warring factions in their country, women are the victims of the
most horrific crimes. As one journalist reported, "Many have been so
sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted
with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond
repair."(1) They bear their wounds in their own bodies, permanent scars of
violence and oppression.
In this holiest week for Christians around the world, the broken and wounded
body of Jesus is commemorated in services of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
The broken body and spilled blood of Jesus is remembered in the symbols of bread
and wine on Maundy Thursday, and in the black draping of curtains and cloths on
Good Friday. Jesus suffered violence in his own body, just as many do around the
Even as Christian mourning turns to joy with Easter resurrection celebrations,
it is important to note that Jesus bore the wounds of violence and oppression in
his body - even after his resurrection. When he appeared to his disciples,
according to John's gospel, Jesus showed them "both his hands and his side" as a
means by which to identify himself to them. Indeed, the text tells us that once
the disciples took in these visible wounds "they rejoiced when they saw the
Lord" (John 20:20).
The resurrection body of Jesus contained the scars from nail and sword, and
these scars identified Jesus to his followers. And yet, the wounds of Jesus took
on new significance in light of his resurrection. While still reminders of the
violence of crucifixion his wound-marked resurrection body demonstrates God's
power over evil and death.
But his wounds reveal something else. God's work of resurrection - indeed of new
creation - begins in our wounded world. His resurrection is not a disembodied
spiritual reality for life after the grave; it bears the marks of his wounded
life here and now, yet with new significance. N.T. Wright, who has written
extensively on the central importance of Christ's bodily resurrection for
Christians, says it this way:
"The resurrection of Jesus means that the present time is shot through with
great significance….Acts of justice and mercy, the creation of beauty and the
celebration of truth, deeds of love and the creation of communities of kindness
and forgiveness - these all matter, and they matter forever. Take away the
resurrection, and these things are important for the present but irrelevant for
the future and hence not all that important after all even now. Enfolded in this
vocation to build now, with gold, silver, and precious stones, the things that
will last into God's new age, is the vocation to holiness: to the fully human
life, reflecting the image of God, that is made possible by Jesus' victory on
the cross and that is energized by the Spirit of the risen Jesus present within
communities and persons." (2)
Indeed, Paul's great exposition of the resurrection of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15
ends by reminding the Corinthians, "Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always
abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the
Lord." The point of the resurrection is to demonstrate that entropy and death do
not have the final word - either for humans or for God's creation. God's last
word is resurrection in the midst of our human, often-wounded lives now.
The reality of the resurrection marked by the wounds of Jesus can bring this
kind of hope and this kind of joy even into the darkest places. The reality of
the bodily resurrection also compels a response from those who live in its
light. We work and we toil, and perhaps even pour out our blood, sweat, and
tears to tend the wounds of others. The hope of the resurrection reminds us that
our labor is far from in vain. We bear the scars of toil even as we labor to
bring resurrection reality into this world. We bear them as we remember that
Jesus continued to wear his scars as part of his resurrected life.
The visible wounds of Jesus after his resurrection also bring hope in the midst
of our suffering. Even our suffering does not have to be in vain. Many women in
the Congo, despite all their horrific suffering, seem to understand this. Behind
the Panzi Hospital that treats the majority of these rape cases, a new center of
refuge called "City of Joy" is being built. It will be a place of long-term
healing and refuge for women who have been victimized and abused in Eastern
Congo. Many of the women, who carry the cement for the building on their heads,
were themselves victims of these crimes. Their wounds still visible on their
bodies, they are building a city of joy.(3)
Alleluia, Christ is risen!
(1) Jeffrey Gettleman, "Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War," New York
Times, October 7, 2007.
(2) N.T. Wright and Marcus Borg, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (New York:
HarperCollins, 1999), 126-127.
(3) Nicholas D. Kristof, "What Are You Carrying?" New York Times video blog,
March 8, 2010.
About the Author:
Margaret Manning is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias
International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.
Source: A Slice of Infinity. Copyright © 2013 Ravi Zacharias International
Ministries, All rights reserved.
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