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The Marks of Jesus

The Marks of Jesus

Words of Faith 7-23-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Galatians 6

[17] Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.      

 

      Paul ended his letter to the Galatians in an interesting way.  He gave no personal greetings, final snippets of advice, or parting words of gratitude.  Instead, he gave a final request and a blessing.  Little niceties would not have been genuine in a letter like this which had been so forceful and direct.  So Paul concluded with a strong request and an active blessing.

      The request was that no one cause him trouble.  The reason was that he bore on his body the marks of Christ. Paul used the word "stigmata," meaning a brand put on cattle or slaves. Literally, I am branded as a slave of Jesus.  

      Most interpreters infer that Paul was requesting that no one cause him this same sort of trouble again, giving in to the heresies taught by the legalists.  But Paul was really more personal here.  This whole thing was an affront and challenge to the Gospel he had preached and who he was. The actions of the believers in Galatia was a personal rejection of Paul and the truth he had dedicated his life to proclaiming.

      One might easily say to Paul, "Don't take all this so personally.  The legalists just have a different opinion."  But nothing could have been more personal to Paul than the truth of God's grace. 

      That is why Paul had written, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different Gospel" (1:6).  That is why Paul confronted so strongly, "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?  Have you suffered so much for nothing--if it really was for nothing?  Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard" (3:1-5)?

      Paul took all this personally because in his body, he bore the marks of Jesus. I am branded as a slave of Jesus.

      In mentioning stigmata, Paul was not talking about a mystical appearance of markings sometimes celebrated in history.  Paul was talking about the literal scars on his body that had come from persecution.  He had known hunger, thirst, brutal beatings, riots, hard work, and sleepless nights.  He had been imprisoned, beaten, and left for dead, flogged with whips, stoned, beaten with rods and shipwrecked (1 Cor. 4:11; 2 Cor. 4:10-11; 6:5, 9; 11:24-25). These were the marks, both visible and invisible.  These were the scars, both internal and external, that marked Paul.

       We should not misunderstand here.  Paul counted it an honor to share in the suffering of Christ.  As he wrote to Philippians, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…" (3:10)

       But within the family of believers, in the simplest way, Paul was saying, don't call me a people pleaser. Don't tell me this is just another viewpoint.  Don't tell me not to take this criticism personally. Don't tell me to back off.  I bear in my body and soul the scars that testify to my authenticity and that of the Gospel.

      You know, when I think about it, I don't remember a single genuine minister of the Gospel who cannot make the same claim, even if not in such extremes.  Authentic missionaries, pastors, evangelists, prophets, and teachers usually bear scars that mark the price paid for the Gospel. They won't talk about it much because they too count it an honor.  But each one would probably echo the request "let no one cause me trouble.”

 

      Lord God, show me the way You would have me honor those who bear the scars of the Gospel ministry.  Show me the ways I can support missionaries and teachers, pastors, and evangelists.  Help me to see the ways that I am to give honor and respect to those who bear the marks of Jesus.  In Jesus' Name.

 

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.  

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