How could he? How could they?

Like the rest of us, I’ve been reeling from the news of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. For a moment last Tuesday, I thought that something so awful might bring people back to church.

And then I remembered what I was still reeling from last Monday: The news of sexual abuse by leaders at all levels of the Southern Baptist Convention, and a massive cover up, over 20 years. It was a lot like what happened in the Catholic Church.

Just what church are people supposed to go back to?

If even its leaders abuse the most vulnerable, then the church deserves to lose people’s trust. This is why Jesus aimed his harshest criticisms at the religious leaders of his day. One of his most famous confrontations occurred in John 8, where the leaders were willing to exploit a vulnerable woman just to discredit him. 

People, even leaders, are capable of the worst kind of evil.

God’s own son was put to death by the worst kind of evil, which is, strangely enough, why people need to come back to church.

After Jesus fed the 5000, massive crowds followed him. But then he started to say things like, “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” It was so hard, the crowds all left, including some disciples.

Jesus looked at the twelve and asked, “You don’t want to leave too, do you?”

Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

People do need to come back to church. As broken as we are, there is still truth here.

And Jesus’ words of eternal life.

Visible wounds

This Sunday, as we celebrate Jesus’ Ascension, we get to sing one of my favorite hymns, “Crown Him with Many Crowns.” The third verse goes:

Crown him the Lord of love, behold his hands and side, rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified; no angels in the sky can fully bear that sight, but downward bend their burning eyes at mysteries so bright.

The risen, flesh and blood Jesus was taken to heaven with his wounds still visible in his hands, feet, and side.

And his wounds are still visible in heaven. 

It’s an incredible claim. I get emotional every time I think about it.

When Jesus was raised from the dead his wounds were the proof that it was really him and not somebody else. 

Now Jesus is in the heavenly dimension. He’s glorified, and humanity is glorified with him. 

Meaning us and our wounds. 

Jesus takes all the things we suffer in this life, the hurts, the scars, visible and invisible, and transforms them from hurt into glory. 

I don’t know why there is so much hurt and suffering in the world. Most of it is due to human sin, rejection of God. But in becoming one of us, suffering with us and for us, it has to mean Jesus cares. It has to mean our wounds matter to God.

That’s why he was taken up for us, wounds and all. 

Do you know any retired hockey players? Have you seen them up close? I’m pretty sure they wear their scars and their false teeth as a badge of honor.

The scars say “I did this. I had a full life. I really lived the life of a hockey player.”

If a hockey player’s wounds are a badge of honor, what do you think God can do with our wounds? 

The wounds we suffer in this life become a source of glory in the next. 

The things we’re tempted to cover up in this life become a source of beauty in the next. 

Believers don’t suffer in vain.

Jesus glorifies our wounds, and because of the Ascension, one day our joy will be infinitely greater for the wounds we suffer here.   


It’s a word we often say when something stirs deep emotions. It means that something affected us in a profound way.

But why say, “touching?”  Why not just say “moving” or “affecting?” How is it that a word that means “having a common border” or “adjacent” came to signify profound feelings?

Well, why did God come into the world in-person as the God-man Jesus Christ? And when he came, why did he go out among the crowds of hurting persons?

He didn’t sit alone on the top of a hill and expect people to come to him.

He didn’t wait until the age of electronic media and make commercials.

He came to touch and be touched. You could hold him and smell him. You could feel the scratch of his beard on your cheek when he kissed you. Why?

It’s got to mean that we were created to touch and be touched. And that means, the more isolated we are from others, the more “out of touch” we become, and the less we become our truest and best selves.

Of course, not all touching is healthy.

And a few take advantage of our need for touch to satisfy some perverse impulse.

Matthew 9 tells of a woman who’d been hemorrhaging for twelve years. She told herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I’ll be healed.”

She was right, and it’s still true for us.

We have to let him touch us, through worship, Christian community, prayer, and more. The more he touches us, the more we become who he created us to be.