Imagine for a moment a frightening scenario. Let’s imagine that a man has entered my home and taken from me that which is most precious to me. In his wickedness he has killed my wife and children. He shot me and left me for dead. In the weeks that follow this man is arrested, tried, and imprisoned. Now let us suppose that this man is solidly converted while in jail. He corresponds with me. He asks my forgiveness. Now let us imagine that this man is one day released from jail. He wants to come to my church and hear me preach from my wheelchair. Here is the question—whose wounds do I see when I look upon this man?
The scenario I have laid out has more or less transpired numerous times in church history. I think of what it must have been like for the church in Jerusalem to welcome Saul of Tarsus. Welcome the man that have ravaged the church? Welcome the man that had bound them? Punished them? The man who sought to compel them to blaspheme? And yet when Barnabas could convince the apostles and the brethren that Saul was a new man in Christ, we read that he was “with” the church. The word mean ‘among’. His desire was to ‘join’ the disciples. Not simply attend the preaching—he wanted to join. To be cemented to, to cleave to. That could only happen if there was a mutual relationship. Some of the brethren who welcomed him into the church bore the scars, physically and emotionally of his persecution. Some of them had lost husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers to his cruelty. And yet, he joined them. The question for these brethren was—whose wounds would they see when they looked at this man.
Perhaps you have a brother or sister in Christ who has done you harm. They may even be in your own family. Every time you see them you could be reminded of your wounds….or you could be reminded of the wounds of another.
You see when the church in Jerusalem saw Saul they focused not on the wounds he had caused them, but the wounds his sins, and their sins had inflicted upon Jesus. When we behold His wounds and not our wounds we are able to love and forgive and fellowship with sinners—even sinners who have sinned against us. So the question, my friend, is this—whose wounds do you behold?Jim Savastio, Pastor Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville