The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, “May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. … From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body.”
“I carry the marks of Jesus branded on me.” That is a rather interesting statement and can be taken literally or figuratively. In a literal since, many believe that he is speaking of stigmata. When a person has been blessed with the stigmata they will often exhibit sores or bleeding wounds corresponding to the wounds that Jesus received when he was crucified. One of the more famous stigmatics was St. Padre Pio. He bore the wounds of Christ for fifty years and it is reported that they mysteriously disappeared shortly after his death.
In a figurative since, we should all bear the wounds of Christ – a spiritual stigmata. As Paul also stated in his letter to the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” To be one who spiritually bears the wounds of Christ is to be like Paul, one who has been crucified with Christ.
In either case, literal or figurative, it comes to the Cross. The Cross of Christ and the one that we are all commanded to bear for ourselves.
The question that I would have for you today is: do you bear the wounds of Christ? Have you been crucified with Him? When we consider such an event, we are often assaulted by fear, because it means that we are giving up ourselves. We are saying, “I am prepared to put to death all that I have and all that I am, for the sake of Jesus.”
That can be a bit overwhelming. Yet, as is true with much of our walk with Jesus, this being “crucified with Christ” is not necessarily an instantaneous event. It is a process. A journey that may last a lifetime. You may be one who is able to crucify your entire self in a single event, but if you are like most, it will occur over time. So, where will you begin? What is it that is separating you from God? When you look at yourself, what part of you do you discern is in greatest need of being placed upon the cross? Then, to be crucified with Christ is not only to discern it, but to do something about it.
That great 14th century monk, Thomas a Kempis wrote, “Behold, in the cross is everything, and upon your dying on the cross everything depends. There is no other way to life and to true inward peace than the way of the holy cross and daily mortification. Go where you will, seek what you will, you will not find a higher way, nor a less exalted but safer way, than the way of the holy cross.”
“The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Daily. Piece by piece, place yourself upon that most holy cross and be crucified with Christ.