Bearing the Marks of Jesus
11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
Paul ends his letter to the Galatians with a summation of his main point. His urgency is evident. He’s writing this ending with his own hands rather than relying on dictation. He wants them to feel his heart.
The false teachers are pushing circumcision for one reason: they don’t want to bear the persecution of Jesus. They don’t want to follow Jesus to the cross at the hands of angry Jews. So, if they add a little Jewishishness to their lives, they can claim Judaism and Christianity in some disfigured hybrid. They don’t mind deforming God as long as they aren’t deformed themselves.
The Christian life does not consist in what we do or don’t do. It consists in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. What he accomplished is the only boast we have. We need no other. The world has been crucified to us and us to the world. We are more than conquerors through him who loves us.
The cross of Christ may be our boast but it is an offense to the world. It tells us all that we are so evil Jesus had to die to save us. It puts our pride on the ground and stomps it until it’s dust. Our only hope is that dust is swallowed in the blood of Christ’s cross. When he cleanses us, we become a new creation—no longer the person we were but the person God has made us. Our personal boast is broken as Christ’s cross is lifted up.
The Christian life will lead to persecution. That is no new revelation. Jesus himself told us it would be so. Paul understood the cost, but he could not deny his Lord. It was painful being beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, maligned, slandered. But when the scars healed he bore on his body the marks of Jesus. He became a living witness to the gospel of his glorious grace. The wounds hurt but Jesus healed them all. More than that, he put them on display before the watching world, proclaiming his good news of salvation. We may struggle through this life, but the marks we bear on our body will one day match the marks Jesus bore on his. And when we enter eternal life we will find, amazingly, we have the garment necessary for entrance into his kingdom. It wasn’t easy, but we went to war with Jesus and watched him slay the giant on our behalf. It was glorious, and we have the rest of time to enjoy the spoils.