The Marks of Jesus
Rev. Lily Lim | On 11, Jun 2019
Galatians 6:17 (KJV)- “From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”
In the book of “Pilgrim Progress”, Bunyan tells us that Christian (the male protagonist of the story) received 4 gifts at the Cross from the angels – peace, a new raiment, a mark and a sealed roll.
We know that PEACE means peace with God through the death of Jesus. A NEW RAIMENT means the new garment of Jesus’ righteousness that we have to put on. The SEALED ROLL refers to the word of God. But what about the MARK?
Is it a badge of honor? We wish it is, as we love to wear badge of honor. I remember as a high school student, I had to wear a different badge from the rest of the student body because I was a school prefect and the badge for prefects was red while the badge for student body was green. I also remember as a Girl Guide in my High School, I would sacrifice many Saturdays to be taking first class courses and tests and I would pass every one of them. And with every passing, I would be awarded by my Patrol Commandant a badge. And at every official ceremony in my school, the Girl Guides and other uniform groups would don on their uniforms and I would wear all those First-Class badges on my sleeve. One day I went to the HQ for the Girl Guide for some choir training and there were many other Girl Guides from other schools and they saw those many badges that I had put on my sleeves and they went “Wow”!!!
The badge that Christian in the Pilgrim Progress received wasn’t a badge of honor but it was the badge or mark like Paul received.
Our key text is the conclusion of Paul’s letter to the Galatian Christians. Many of the Jewish teachers had subverted these Galatian Christians into believing that Paul was not truly an apostle because he had not known the Lord Jesus in the days of His flesh. So, Paul concluded his letter with one more combative statement to those who opposed him. He told them to, in essence, leave him alone. He wanted them to stop causing him trouble. Paul was not offering to change his message to achieve some truce with the Jewish religious leaders who had so often harassed him, though He simply asserted that he belonged to Jesus. So, Paul compared himself with those religious leaders and he asked, “Have they the marks of the Lord Jesus upon them? No – but I have!” What is the proof of our attachment to Christ? Is it the words we speak? No, not primarily. There should be some DISTINCTIVE MARKS about our lives that identify us as Christians.
This morning I want to share a message entitled, “THE MARKS OF JESUS”.
The road map of my sermon will be:
• What are the marks of Jesus?
• What is the purpose of the marks of Jesus?
• How are we marked for Jesus?
• Our Scar-Marked Jesus
(I) WHAT ARE THE MARKS OF JESUS?
What did Paul mean when he quoted Galatians 6:17? He had in mind a common custom of those day, namely, that of BRANDING CERTAIN PEOPLE WITH A HOT SEARING IRON.
• A MARK OF OWNERSHIP
This is like a brand applied on cattle or a slave.
• A MARK OF SHAME
In the Roman Empire, when a slave ran away, if he was caught, his owner might have him stripped, the irons heated and the letters “FVG” (fugitivus) branded upon him. Perhaps, the owner’s initials might be burnt on the slave too. The practice long survived in France, where convicts were branded “V” (voleur) or “TF” (travil force). And people took their children to see it done as a moral lesson to them – “If you do bad things, you will have the mark of shame on you.”
• A MARK OF VALOR
Soldiers during the Roman Empire’s time were also branded as a mark of allegiance to their generals.
The “marks” of valor that the soldier obtained on the battle field were invariably a matter of pride to himself and to his friends.
E.g.- At the battle of Busaco in Portugal, in 1810, Sir Charles Napier, afterwards the conqueror of Scinde, was shot through the face. His two brothers had been wounded a short time before and when he wrote to his mother, he said, “You have the pride of saying your three sons have been wounded and are all alive. How this would have repaid my father for all his anxieties and it must do so for you. There is no such shame for such wounds. The scars on my face will be as good as medals; better, for they were not gained by hiding behind a wall.”
• A MARK OF DEVOTION AND FIDELITY
Religious devotees would frequently be branded by the priests in some heathen temple as a mark of devotion and fidelity.
Let’s not forget the Biblical example of a bond slave who had the mark of an awl bore through his ear lobe for his refusal to leave his Jewish master on the year of his release simply because of his love for his master (Deuteronomy 15:16-17).”
The Greek word for “marks” used by Paul in Galatians 6:17 is “STIGMATA” and they are defined as the “marks of SHAME AND REPROACH IN THE EYES OF THE WORLD”. In English, they are “signs of disgrace or shame”.
WHAT WERE THE ACTUAL MARKS OF PAUL?
They were the bodily scars and blemishes which he had received as the result of PERSECUTION he suffered because of his faithfulness to the Lord Jesus.
2 Corinthians 11:23-28 describes in detail the fearful physical suffering Paul endured and notice the 5 kinds of suffering mentioned: –
• “in prison more frequently…”
• “exposed to death again and again….”
Paul was frequently exposed to death and it seems certain that on occasion he was actually killed, though God mercifully raised him up (Acts 14:19-20).
• “five times I received… the forty lashes minus one…..” These were inflicted with a long leather strap divided into thongs, on each of which was attached stones and pieces of metal. Thus, the back would soon be lacerated and torn.
• “three times…beaten with rods….” This method of punishment was inflicted on Paul and Silas at Philippi (Acts 16:22)
• “once I was stoned…..” Large boulder, as heavy as a man could lift, would be hurled at the victim until his body was reduced to a pulp.
Application: This descriptive passage of scripture explains the marks on Paul’s body- the brand marks of the Lord Jesus. Do they not put us to shame? Most of us want to be popular Christians and we know little of suffering for Christ’s sake. How many of today’s self-proclaimed “apostles” could write what Paul did in the above verses? Today Christendom uses the title “apostles” not to refer to those who have been directly commissioned and sent by Jesus Christ to travel abroad preaching the Gospel (which is the Biblical definition) but to those who have deceived themselves into believing they have a special “anointing” of God. In Paul’s day, “apostle” was a term of SCORN AND HATRED. Today, it is one of great FAME AND WEALTH. Surely the “apostles” of today and the apostles in the Bible days are two different groups of people, serving two different “higher powers”! Let us remember those in many countries today who are suffering much at the hands of men and who are, for their Lord’s sake, bearing in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Summary: All these physical marks branded Paul as one of Christ’s slaves; as His property; as His valiant soldier and as His devoted and dedicated follower – these are what the marks of Jesus mean. Just as these brands cannot be imprinted on our body except through searing heat, so we as followers and servants of Jesus cannot be marked except through searing heat of SUFFERING for the cross, with its scorn, shame and reproach.
(II) WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE MARKS OF JESUS?
The purpose for such marking or branding is to stamp the OWNERSHIP OF JESUS upon us. The marks of Jesus brands us as BELONGING TO JESUS.
Galatians 6: 17b (amp)- for I bear on my body the branding-marks of Jesus [the wounds, scars, and other outward evidence of persecutions – these testify to HIS OWNERSHIP OF ME].
The ownership of Christ is one of the great realities of the Christian life. We speak of Christ as our Savior, our Friend, our Example, our Teacher, but how seldom do we think and speak of Him as our Owner! And yet He is. We belong not to ourselves, but to Him. Our time, our talents, our money, our business, our home – all that we call our own is not so much ours as His. We were “bought with a price” and we belong to Him who bought us.
We are His slaves if we have any living relationship to Him at all. Where, then, in the Christian life, is there a place for self-will; for murmuring or reluctance; for the assertion of any rights of our own as against that Master? We owe absolute obedience and submission to Jesus Christ.
The Christian slavery, with its abject submission of our own will, with its utter surrender and suppression of our own will, with its complete yielding to self to the control of Jesus, is based upon Jesus’ surrender of Himself to us. The inmost essence for such submission and surrender is the operation of love which is co-existent with the noblest freedom.
Illustration: The Broad Arrow of Service
“When North America was merely an English colony, the very timber of the country was sorted out. Wherever a valiant pine or noble oak, fit for the mast or for the ribs of the ships was found, the arrow – “the Broad Arrow” was stamped on it. The tree was in no respect different from what it was before, dendrologically speaking, after the arrow was put on it. But when the people saw the BROAD ARROW on the tree, they said, “That’s the King’s” or “It does not belong to us: it belongs to the king”. The mark of the BROAD ARROW had attached to it a SENSE OF ROYALTY and a SENSE OF APPROPRIATION. And the tree took to itself something of the DIGNITY which belongs to REAL ROYALTY.
Lesson: Now it is not an arrow for us today – it is the CROSS THAT IS STAMPED ON US – the sign and symbol of the purchase of suffering by which we are Christ’s and manifest it to the world.
Application: The marks of Jesus seared upon us physically, spiritually, mentally or emotionally through suffering really scar and wound us. And if today we cannot understand the purpose of these marks of Jesus upon us as Christians, then we would look at Christ and Christianity with a tainted view – we would be disillusioned Christians; we would be bitter and resentful Christians. But if today, we can see these marks or scars that marks us as BELONGING TO JESUS, then we will get our sense of royalty and appropriation back. We will look at our suffering not in disgust and shame but rather with dignity as that belonging to real royalty. When we are marked by Christ for higher service for Him, like the tree marked for ship fit to sail sturdily through every storm, we must be prepared for Christ to sear the hot brand fire or even to shoot His broad arrow at us – not to kill us but to mark us so that Satan and the world will know that we are not just ordinary people [though we may look like any other people] – but we belong to the KING. We are royalty. We are marked vessel – destined for great and noble use for the King.
If you are not marked by any persecution, shame or reproach for the gospel’s sake, then you are fit for ignoble use. Truly all these sufferings that we are going through are indeed MANTLE DEVELOPMENT. They are marking us out for great and noble use but at the same time, it is building up our SENSE OF BELONGING AND CONFIDENCE THAT WE BELONG TO THE KING so that we can say to those people who devalidate us, denounce us, slander us, persecute us or oppose us, “Let no man trouble me for I bear in the body the marks of Jesus.” “I am the King’s Property. If you touch me, you touch the King. If you trouble me, you trouble the King”
E.g. I remember during the Quezon years, there was this lady who was really like a thorn in my flesh. She didn’t buy our appointment and office as missionary or pastor as we are of almost the same age as her. This member was like Joab and brothers – sons of Zeruiah who was so hard for me to handle as a pastor. At every service she would fold her arms and gave us the “poker face” when the word of God was being preached. She would sneer at everything we did and she would speak arrogantly and condescendingly to almost every member she met, claiming that God had given her the gift of discernment to discern bad people in our church. To her, every single person in church was bad except her. That was the high horse she would sit on. One day, after her many torments, criticisms, tantrums and threats to leave our church, I just declared in my prayer – “Do not trouble me, “so and so”, for I bear in my body the marks of Jesus.” Did I have mark of Jesus at that time? Of course – mark of deprivation, marks of scorn and ridicule because of answering the call of mission; marks of persecution, marks of near-death experience. Immediately after that prayer, my King stepped in on my behalf. This member was expecting a promotion in her workplace but she was bypassed not only once but thrice and, in the end, she had to resign that job because nobody liked her there.
Application: Do you know who you are in Christ? Do you know that you belong to Christ- especially those who have suffered and are suffering for Christ because of your ministry, your faithfulness to Christ and your calling and especially because of your obedience to Christ and the word? Do you know that the Bible says that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12)? Do you know you are the property of the King? Do you know that Christ is your owner? So do not let evil and troublesome people who hate Christ push you around. Show them the marks of Jesus on you and that will silence them.
(III) HOW ARE WE MARKED FOR JESUS?
There are the 5 marks God will brand upon you, if you are a true disciple of Christ:
• THE MARK OF PERSECUTION
John 15:20- Jesus said, “If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”
The word “persecution” means to “drive away.” Isn’t that what they did to Jesus. His own family and even townsfolks drove Him away and rejected Him.
There were people who drove Jesus away and there will be people who will drive you away when they know you belong to Christ. They didn’t want any part of Christ and they don’t want any part of us. Many of us Christians don’t know how to take persecution. You thought that just because you are born again, people will love you. No! There will be many people who will mock you, ostracize you, spit at us once they know you are Christians. The minute you are identified as Christ’s followers, they will persecute you – driving you away.
Some of you have been persecuted and driven away by your parent from your home. Good news to you – you are branded by your King. Look at it as a badge of honor and not disgrace so that you will not be bitter against your persecutor. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).
• THE MARK OF HATRED
Matthew 10:22- And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.
“Hatred” means “unjustifiable feelings towards another.” There is no way anybody can justify why they hate somebody. Somehow, when we are committed Christians, many people will hate you without a cause. Maybe it is because our lifestyle reveals the sinfulness of their own lifestyle. Or maybe it is a demonic “anti-Christ” hatred against us as God’s people. Or maybe because they hate the truth we carry because they love falsehood and darkness more than truth and light.
• THE MARK OF BEING KILLED
Romans 8:36- “For thy sake we are killed all the day long….”
Herod tried to stop Jesus from being born. The world is doing the same thing by trying to spiritually kill us and keep us away from their sons and daughters so that they won’t get saved. The world and evil people would also love to kill the vision and the promises of God given to us so that we would quit on God.
• THE MARK OF REPROACH
1 Peter 4:14- “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye.”
The word “reproach” means to “defame somebody, to disgrace somebody or to dishonor somebody.”
I don’t have to elaborate on this as many of you have witnessed how the “Nahash” spirit stirred up that spirit of reproach against us and this church in 2012 by defaming us publicly in the Panay News.
Who can withstand these three Ds -defamation, disgrace and dishonor? But these are reproaches for those who are called and chosen. They cannot absolve from these.
• THE MARK OF DEATH
The Jews killed Jesus on the cross.
Death means “termination of life”. It doesn’t mean termination of the soul but literal termination of life. They nailed Jesus to that cross and killed him literally.
There were many times the devil and evil people tried to kill us physically. The devil tried to kill Jan in 2003 so that Pastor Toh Nee and I would be too crippled to serve Christ further in Iloilo City. Thank God for preserving Mei in that vehicular accident.
Application: Are you persecuted today? Are you being hated? Was there a time when the devil and evil people almost killed your “baby” – literally or spiritually referring to the promises and vision God gave you? Have you been disgraced, defamed and dishonored by people spiritually, sexually and emotionally? Is there a time when the spirit of death tries to get you?
The 5 marks of Jesus – none of us can escape as it will come to us at one point or another in our Christian journey, especially if you are called by God for a higher purpose.
(IV) OUR SCAR-MARKED JESUS
THE MARK OF A BOND-SLAVE IN OLD TESTAMENT
The Hebrews had a scheme of qualified slavery. A man might sell his service for six years, but at the end of that time, he was scot-free. On the New Year’s morning of the seventh year he was granted his full liberty and given some grain and oil to begin life anew. But if on that morning he found himself reluctant to leave all his ties binding him to his master’s home, this was the custom among them. He would say to his master, “I don’t want to leave you. This is home to me. I love you and the mistress. I love the place. All my ties and affections are here. I want to stay with you always.” His master would say, “Do you mean this?” “Yes,” the man would reply. “I want to belong to you forever.” Then the master would call in the leading men of the village to witness the occurrence. And he would take his servant out to the door of the home, and standing him up against the door-jamb, would pierce the lobe of his ear through with an awl. Then the man became, not his slave, but his bond-slave, forever (Deuteronomy 15:16-17). IT WAS A PERSONAL SURRENDER OF HIMSELF TO HIS MASTER; IT WAS VOLUNTARY; IT WAS FOR LOVE’S SAKE; IT WAS FOR SERVICE; IT WAS AFTER A TRIAL; IT WAS FOR LIFE.
Now that was what Jesus did.
The scar-mark of Jesus surrender was not in His ear, as with the old Hebrew slave. It was on His cheek, and brow, on His back, in His side and hands and feet. The scar-marks of His surrender were all over his face and form.
Everybody who surrenders to Jesus bears some scar of it because of sin, his own or somebody else’s. Referring to suffering endured in service, Paul tenderly reckons it as a MARK OF JESUS’ OWNERSHIP – “I bear the scars, the stigmata of the Lord Jesus.”
Jesus, after his resurrection came to his disciples and said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do your questioning rise in your hearts? See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:36-40). “Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” ……Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing” (John 20:24-27).
Why did the resurrected Jesus retain his scars?
• To establish his identity
That he was the very same Jesus whom they had followed, whom at last they had deserted, whom they had beheld afar off crucified and slain and whom they had carried to the tomb in the gloom of the evening.
That he was the very same Christ who was now before so that they might know it because there was the SEAL OF HIS SUFFERING UPON HIM.
That he was the same person- the hands and feet could testify to them.
• To employ them as powerful advocates
When Jesus rises up to pray for his people in Heaven, he needs not speak a word; He lifts his hands before His Father’s face; He makes bare his side and points to His feet and these became the orator with which He pleads with God – these wounds. Christ with his wound plead and prevail in His intercession for you and me.
• To wear them as ornaments and trophies
Christ wear these scars in his body in heaven as his ornaments. The wounds of Christ are his glories- they are His jewels and His precious things. His crown of thorn has become crown of glory.
His scars and wounds are his trophies of his LOVE. Have you never seen a soldier with a gash across his forehead? Why every soldier will tell you the wound in battle is no disfigurement – it is HIS HONOR. “If I received a wound when I was retreating, a wound in the back, that were to my disgrace. If I have received a wound in a victory, then it is an honorable thing to be wounded.” Now, Jesus has scars of honor in his flesh and glory in his eyes. He has other trophies which He has divided the spoil with the strong; He has taken the captives away from His tyrant master; He has redeemed for himself a host that no man can number- who are all the trophies of His victories. But these scars, these are the memorial of the FIGHTS and these are the trophies of his honor.
Just as the scarred Jesus went to his disciples in the house…. that scarred Jesus, whose body told and tells of His surrender to His Father, comes to us. And with those hands eagerly outstretched, and eyes beaming with earnestness of His great passion for men, He says, “Yoke up with Me. Let me have the control of all your splendid powers, in carrying out our Father’s will for the world.
As it is the glory of a soldier to have received many wounds and to have many scars in his prince’s quarrel and for the defense of his country, so it is a glory for the Christian soldier to have the marks of the Lord Jesus in his body, such as wounds, scourges and imprisonment for the truth.
Let us ask the Lord that He will honor us by placing upon us the marks of the Lord Jesus so that others may readily see WHOSE WE ARE and WHOM WE SERVE until the time comes when we are able to say with the apostle –“For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
MY TESTIMONY: Galatian 6:17 was the rhema God gave me when I did my devotion on 10 May 2019. Then 4 days later, I had a dream. In that dream, I vividly heard God teaching me and showing me how to connect Galatian 6:17 to Deuteronomy 15:16-17 about the marks of the bond-slave. I literally heard the voice of the Father teaching me – “Connect these two passages together. They are parallel.” In my dream I saw open bible containing these two key texts – Galatians 6:17 and Deuteronomy 15:16-17 and hence I am preaching this to you because I know God wants to tell this church and to many of us who have suffered so much because of our service and faithfulness to Him – that it is He who has allowed these painful sufferings to come upon our church and our lives so as to mark us as His own because He has a noble and grand purpose for the church as well as for us. The 5 marks – persecution, hatred, being killed, reproach (3 Ds- defamation, disgrace and dishonor), death – are invariably stamped upon us to tell our enemies and the world whose we are and whom we serve. We belong to the King of Kings and we serve the Son of God, the Prince of God. The marks are painful when it was seared onto us. The marks started out as mark of shame and scorn but if we are willing to be identified with Jesus’ suffering, these marks will become marks of valor, love, honor and dignity. Therefore, with these marks of Jesus branded on us literally or spiritually, let us declare to those who trouble and oppose us – “LET NO MAN TROUBLE ME: FOR I BEAR IN MY BODY THE MARKS OF THE LORD JESUS.”
PREACHED AT ETAB 1ST ENG SV ON 9 JUNE 2019