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Jump-Start Your Day

Saturday, March 10th '18

All rights reserved © message by Kris Jackson

 

STIGMA

"...I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus" (Galatians 6:17)

 

The verse begins, "From now on let no man trouble me..." Paul was saying, "Don't give me any more lip. I have the wounds to prove my devotion to Christ". Many questioned his authority. They wanted a degree or a seminary certificate. Instead he rolled up his shirtsleeves and gave them scourge marks. "Marks" there is stigma in Greek. Likewise the Calvary wounds of Jesus were plural stigmata. The dictionary defines stigma as "a mark or token of infamy, disgrace or reproach". Paul wore his war wounds with pride. All men find a sense of valor in their scars, whether from a bicycle accident or Purple Heart-winning bullet from the frontlines. Once scarred, Paul was no longer scared. Today we have too many star preachers and not enough scar preachers!

 

In its archaic usage stigma is a mark burned into the skin of a criminal or slave. Paul was blinded by, bonded to and branded for Christ. A willing "bond-slave" according to Romans 1:1. Those wounds spoke ownership. What would be stigmatic to Hollywood or the vanity crowd was considered a token of surrender and devotion by our brave apostle. "Five times I received forty stripes minus one" (2 Corinthians 11:24). That adds up to 195 lashes across the back. "Three times I was beaten with rods" (vs 25). Scarred and marred. The Jesus-life brought disfigurement as well as imprisonment and banishment. Today's apostles demand five-star hotel quartering, limo service and someone to carry their bible. They have to make their mark. Paul, instead, bore his mark. His ministerial résumé; "we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless...we have been made as the filth of the earth, and the offscouring of all things until now" (1 Corinthians 4:11,13). John Q. Religion of today would have one word for that kind of pastor, "He has brought a stigma upon our church!" 

 

Yes, Paul was a marked man. Marked men have a death sentence looming over their heads. I spent a week with a Cuban pastor recently. He had been in jail for his faith three times, once without water for three days. He was causing enough ruckus that the Gov thought it would be easier to give him freedom to leave the nation with invitation to never come back but he refused freedom and today is raising up churches beneath the sickle of communism. He is marked, watched, but oh how respected! The greatest stigma was Calvary. Those who don't understand call it infamous, bloody, a reproach. But for the believer the furrows on Jesus' back have produced a harvest of life. It makes me think of the boy in Florida who was dragged into the marsh by an alligator. Dad grabbed his arms and held on for dear life as the tug-o-war ensued. Another shot the gator in the nick of time. The boy was in critical care for months. But now he shows off the huge scars that crisscross his legs, but with greater joy he displays the scars on his arms where his dad's fingers ripped into the lad's flesh as he held on through the fight. He boasts, "These scars remind me that my dad would never let go!" Hallelujah! Jesus never let go. He took nails, took the whip, bore scars for you and me. And Paul was overjoyed to be able to share in that identity. Now I know you have been baptized, but what I really want to know is, have you been branded?


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