“The Marks Of The Lord Jesus”
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. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. 18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. — Galatians 6
I have to admit that I love the ending to the book of Galatians. The Apostle Paul had given his life over to the service of His Master since the day he was saved. He knew God called him, saved him, and commissioned him to be an emissary for the message of the Cross.
Paul ends Galatians by drawing attention to “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The reason he does that, in part, is to create a visual in the minds of his readers. When one thinks of the cross upon which our Saviour died for us … truth is, it’s not a pretty picture.
The cross signifies the complete and absolute devotion of Messiah to the will of His Father for mankind. Yeshua knew that He must fulfill the purpose for which He was sent: death on a cross.
As a matter of fact, this very truth is highlighted for us in Philippians 2:5-8. It states emphatically that Yeshua “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
When Paul, for the sake of his readers, draws attention to the marks that he bore in his body for the cause of Christ, he likens it to the marks that Yeshua Himself bore for us in His body. But that was far from a self-aggrandizing boast. He had to vividly point out the difference between him and the Judaizers.
Interestingly, Yeshua showed His marks to His disciples after His resurrection.
24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. John 20
Yeshua demonstrated His surrender to the will of His Father by His death and resurrection. The marks were the verifiable proof of His actions. By way of analogy, this is what Paul is doing at the end of the epistle as he refers to the marks he bore for Christ.
We must remember that the book of Galatians has a main antagonist: the Judaizers. They had crept in and undermined Paul’s message of salvation by faith apart from any and all works. But … what marks did they bear of their authenticity? None. Paul even goes so far as to say they had played down the roll of the cross because the stigma it represented brought on physical persecution.
So as he finishes his letter, Paul lays down the gauntlet: Put up or shut up — once and for all. Paul basically saves his ace in the hole to the very end and then lays it out for all to see: the physical evidence on his body.
The word Paul uses for “marks” is the Greek word: stigma. Sounds familiar, right? Here’s an explanation of what this word refers to:
“A mark pricked in or branded upon the body. To ancient oriental usage, slaves and soldiers bore the name or the stamp of their master or commander branded or pricked (cut) into their bodies to indicate what master or general they belonged to, and there were even some devotee's who stamped themselves in this way with the token of their god.”
The readers, and the Judaizers, would have known immediately what Paul meant when he mentioned the marks in his body which he bore for the cause and Cross of Christ.
If we are truly living out our faith as we should, we will become stigmatized. That is, we will be marked as “one of those.” That’s a good thing. If we’re saved we internally bear the “mark” of our Saviour. But it’s not supposed to end there. We are to bear His “mark” externally as well.
Perhaps we will never be called upon to bear the physical markings of our calling and faith like Yeshua or Paul did. But none-the-less, we should be stigmatized anyway. Our lives and our words should mark us for our Saviour.
And those marks should be the final answer and evidence to all those who doubt the reality of a Saviour that reaches out to them with the saving message of eternal redemption.