(This article is a continuation of the previous article on “The Apostolic Shift – Part 1”)
Becoming a “Nail Scar” in His Hand
Paul, Timothy’s spiritual father, tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12: don’t let anybody look down on your youth but be an example. The first place in the New Testament the word for “example” (Gr. – tupos) is used is in John 20:25:
The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’
Thomas was absent in the first encounter with the Lord Jesus after the resurrection. The others tell Him of seeing and communing with the resurrected Lord, and he says, “I will not believe unless I see the nail scar (tupos).” This is what the lost, hurting, sin-loving, hell-bound masses are crying out for – a nail print! This is the beginning of true ministry. This is where the veil of unbelief is lifted off the hearts and understanding of the lost, blind and skeptical (Eph. 1:17-20), and where the Spirit begins the work of transformation in lives. This happens when people encounter the “nail scar” – the physical imprint of His life in us!
For Him to be truly known, for true apostolic ministry to be loosed, there has to be a living example (nail print/scar) manifest before the eyes and hearts of people. A true apostle becomes an example – a nail scar – with the power of the cross imprinted so deep in themselves that the Lord’s resurrection life is freely manifested through these “scars”. This is what the apostle meant when he said the following to the Thessalonians:
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples (tupos) to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. (1 Thess. 1:5-7)
Paul says, “You saw the example (tupos) in us, and you were transformed into the same image. Now an entire region is seeing the example – the crucified, resurrected Christ in you.”
In John 20:17, Thomas said, “I will not believe unless I see that nail print (tupos).” What is a nail print? It’s a scar caused by the action of crucifixion in the flesh of someone. They can be places of deep spiritual, emotional, mental and physical trauma. As it relates to the life of believers, it’s the place where deep, voluntary suffering has come as a result of denying self, but it has been healed by the power of His resurrection. Scars are marks of healing.
These scars can start aching when memories about the past rise up. We can hate them, and be angry and bitter over them and what happened to us. Or, we can wear them with confidence, knowing that the Lord has allowed us to embrace the fellowship of His suffering, and has chosen us to bear them as portals of His resurrection glory manifesting in a sin-sick, demonized world. These cross-wounds are the place where the Spirit of God flows to the lives of those around us. They are the examples (realities) of Christ crucified and resurrected, and His glory put on display.
Paul says to the Galatians: From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus (Gal 6:17). The Greek word for “marks” is stigmata, which Hollywood has hijacked in recent years to mean something God never meant. Paul literally carried scars on his body from his selfless service to the Lord Jesus in carrying the gospel to the Gentile world. He intimates that this is the foundation of his ministry and authority in Christ, and the main reason human harassment should cease against him. Carrying physical scars for the sake of the gospel should yield the highest respect to those who have suffered for His name. But, the work of the cross -voluntarily denying self for His sake – began long before the physical came to be.
“You want to know my apostolic authority, look at my scars”, Paul says to us. That is the imprint of who the Lord is in his life. This is the power of the cross that has been worked in his life. It’s a place where he encountered God, where something that was evil and under the dominion of darkness in him was executed and now the Lord’s resurrected life is manifesting there.
For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God…. (1 Thess. 1:8-9)
Don’t you just love it? Ministry made easy, with no fluff, no big budgets, no large staffs or administration! I love it. Nobody needs to preach a word, although preaching the word and discipleship is important. Paul says to them, “You have put Christ on display because you followed our example (nail print) of embracing self denial for His sake.” Everyone is seeing something different about you and it’s impacting them a lot better than any modern method.