THE STIGMA OF THE LORD JESUS
Gal.2: 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Gal.6: 14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Gal.6: 17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
The word translated “marks” in the KJV is the word “stigma” in the original Greek. The teaching is clear. Are we living so deeply in Christ Jesus that the imprint of His marks can be seen in our lives? In other words, are we bearing His stigma with humility and gladness?
The word stigma is defined in Webster’s as:
"a mark of shame or discredit : or an identifying mark or characteristic"
Now take that definition and purify it as it applies to bearing the stigma of the Lord Jesus. To bear His marks is not like wearing a sports team jersey. It’s not like wearing your school colors. It is nothing like coloring your hair or wearing a certain hat or placing a sticker on your bumper. To bear the marks of Jesus in our bodies is a great and sacred mystery, but to be sure it comes with sacrifice, self denial, and even suffering. And in general it is those very things that the church avoids at all costs. Even when a believers suffers something that is common to man we are quick to pray for a quick release and hardly ever do we consider an opportunity to reveal Christ to others.
We desire the glory and the blessings and the comfort and the promises and the miracles. But if His stigma comes with suffering, pain, mocking, or anything associated with earthly shame then we would rather not. The life which follows Jesus is now presented as filled with earthly blessings and the honor of men. But that is a path upon which Jesus never walked. The leaders of Rome never called on Jesus to offer up prayers for a new Caesar but the hedonist leaders of America call upon men who claim to follow Jesus to speak at a prayer breakfast and pray at the inauguration. So what has changed?
Well, the whole thing has changed. In the modern church Jesus has changed as well as what a follower looks like. Everything has changed and been clothed with earthly culture and human desires and pride. There is no longer any shame or stigma. The modern believer sticks out his chest and loudly and militantly storms the moral Bastilles of the current political issues while leaving behind any semblance of God’s redemptive love. The switch has been made and the counterfeit is complete. The loving and gentle and humble Jesus has been transformed into a group of patriotic Americans who love a good moral fight and who show sinners their boots rather than the cross.
But the Spirit is calling out any believer who can look at himself in the mirror of the gospel narrative that truly reveals Jesus and admit we were wrong. And if we truly repent of our pride and religious hubris that same Spirit will guide into all truth which is Jesus Himself. Anyone who has ever had a genuine revelation of Jesus can never have any personal pride. We see ourselves in the sea of lost sinners and we have no stones to throw. None at all. The Spirit speaks of Jesus and His ministry is to take these earthen lumps of clay and mold them into the a tangible vision of Jesus which can be seen by saved and lost sinners alike.
Oh to be so like Jesus that His stigma is imprinted upon your heart and life. But these words are something quite foreign to any group of professing Christians who have embraced a culture that only allows a false revelation of Christ. Those words about some stigma seem so ethereal and impractical to the religious mindset. The sacred vision of the Son of God has been muscled out by an earthly plastic figurine which can be stuck to the dashboard of your life and even used to batter sinners. But please do not believe that is Jesus. That is not Him. But there is a path which leads to His feet and to His heart and in that place we are changed. Completely changed.
Is that really possible? But we do not hear that from our pulpit. We do not see Jesus in that form. The things of which you speak cannot possibly be true since our peers never speak of such things. I know, dear one, I know. I was once standing where you stand. I once embraced an earthly Jesus and an earthly faith which I could use for my own purposes and desires. Yes I had been born again but I had been assimilated into a western religious culture. I was blind to the glory of the Risen Christ and the love of the ungodly shown through the sufferings of that same Christ. And when we see a false image of our Wonderful Savior we get a false image of what we should be as well.
But it is possible to be utterly transformed by the power of the Spirit. It is not an easy path and it exacts a high price…your life. If you are willing to place your life upon His altar He will take it from you. He will crack open the ugly oyster of your life and He will present you with the Pearl of Great Price. Do you understand the profound truth of it all? When you are a redeemed child of God you are called to allow that same Jesus to live through you. And that does not come from religion or just being moral. That can only come from a personal journey to see Him for Who He truly is.
Paul says that no man should trouble him anymore. He now lives with the stigma of Jesus and there is no higher honor. Let us offer our lives and allow that same stigma to mark us as His alone.