The Marks of the Lord Jesus: Paul, A Marked Man
Paul was a marked man. His scars were his credentials gained from the Bible school of hard knocks. Battle scars from victories won. God allows His servants to go through trials. We must soldier on. Endure hardness. A call for champions – who will be stedfast – no matter what the scars they have to bear.
From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body THE MARKS OF THE LORD JESUS.
Paul had his CRITICS.
But he had his CREDENTIALS.
He bore the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Paul’s bore the marks of a SERVANT.
His scars show us – that WE MUST SERVE GOD, no matter what the scars.
The scars on Paul’s body were the branding marks of Christ.
Cattle gets branded on their flesh in order to show OWNERSHIP. As bond slaves bore a mark in their bodies. As God’s servants we bear SCARS that identify just who our MASTER is.
Paul had subjected his body so much and suffered so much persecution in the name of Jesus Christ until his body was scarred because of the opposition and suffering he had been through.
Yet he still stood and proclaimed the grace and mercy of the Lord.
Paul laboured for God. When you see a labourer’s hands they are worn. Manual work leaves its mark. I’d imagine that the Lord Jesus would have labored in the carpenter’s shop as a young man. His hands would have been rough and shown evidence of His work.
God the Father is called the Husbandman – or Gardener – of the vine. So too His hands would wear the signs of labour.
Paul knew what it meant to be SERVING GOD… Here is Paul’s CV. His credentials… His scars.
2 Corinthians 11:23-28
(23) Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
(24) Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
(25) Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
(26) In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
(27) In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
(28) Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Paul was a marked man. He says,
for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Paul was A MARKED MAN.
Like one preacher put it, “My main ambition in life is to be on the devil’s most wanted list” (Ravenhill). Paul was such a man.
He had once served the devil, as a hater and persecutor of Christians. In Acts 9 he was one described as breathing out threatenings and slaughter against God’s people.
While he was on the Damascus road to cause havoc to the church of God the Lord stopped him in his tracks. And he was converted by the Lord and he himself BECAME ONE OF THE PERSECUTED.
The scars on Paul’s body told a story.
(Section below adapted from a source -)
In Lystra a mob had tried to stone him to death.
In Acts 14:19 it says that they dragged his body out of the city, and left for dead.
Surely this abuse would have left some scars.
At Philippi Paul (and Silas) were beaten with “many stripes” with rods (Acts 16:22). The Jewish law set a limit on beatings of forty stripes (Deuteronomy 25:3), but the Romans set no such restriction.
Paul writes how he received “stripes above measure” – so likely many in number and great in intensity.
He remarks that he also received five beatings by the Jews (none of which is recorded in Acts).
Each of these beatings produced thirty-nine wounds—so that’s no less than 195 stripes from these five beatings alone.
On top of that, three times Paul was whipped with “rods” (two of these occasions are not elsewhere recorded in the New Testament). This was Roman punishment, and was a violation of Paul’s rights as a born citizen of the empire (Acts 22:25).
Paul’s body was marked, and disfigured.
That’s ministry. That’s normal when you serve God. You will be attacked, criticized, you will suffer fatigue and get worm down. You will be a target, a whipping boy. When people have a beef with God they will take it out on you. I’ve experienced that. People have a gripe with God and turn against Him for whatever reason, and they will attack you as a Christian. Expect to have to wear some of that.
What are the marks we bear?
What scars do we carry for the Lord?
Paul gloried in these scars as badges of honour for his Master.
These ugly, shocking scars were yet beautiful signs of God’s grace, of victory.
For the believer it should not surprise us that, as we serve God, WE WILL SUFFER.
We are told to expect it.
2 Timothy 3:10-12
(10) But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
(11) Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
(12) Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Scars act as a REMINDER.
Thank God for your scars, as you serve Him faithfully.
Scars are a reminder of something.
In most cases it is a reminder of something unpleasant.
Many people have scars all over their body.
We mostly have scars from something bad.
- Sports wounds.
- War wounds.
- Surgical cuts.
A farmer brands his cattle to know which ones are his.
When we are saved God marks us. He allows us TO GO THROUGH TIMES OF TRIAL.
You will get some scars as you serve God.
Let us serve the Lord – no matter what the persecution and the opposition.
You will get some scars.
For Paul his marks were like a badge he wore, that marked him out as being a true servant of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Is there anything about us that marks us out as belonging to Christ and identifies us with Him?
You know we talk sometimes about wanting to truly see New Testament Christianity lived out today.
Yet would we have stood with God’s people at the time of Acts 5?
(40) And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and BEATEN them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
(41) And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
(42) And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ
Would we have stood in their number? Would we have been men and women marked men and women, who were marked out, standing out, and serving God such that we would bear scars of service?
Paul’s also bore the marks of a SOLDIER. Battle scars.
His scars show us that WE MUST SOLDIER ON, no matter what the scars.
Scars come from actual combat with the enemy.
There are soldiers here today. Soldiers of the Lord. Bearing battle scars.
The marks of a soldier come from the battles we have been through.
There is a war going on, yet many Christians are not aware of it.
When we make a stand for Christ we will suffer scars.
Every year 150,000 people die as a martyr for Christ.
Perhaps it’s news to you that you are in a war. You might think, well the devil isn’t bothering me.
It’s been said that some Christians that the devil is not bothering are not bothering the devil either.
Paul urged his own son in the faith, Timothy,
2 Timothy 2:3
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Paul urged Timothy to step over the line.
We are called upon to wear the uniform. To be clothed with Jesus Christ. There is a clear identification of a soldier. Walk through the shops and they stand out from the crowd. It is clear what they are. It should be clear who you are also. AS you identify with your Commanding Officer and His Army, the church of God.
Paul knew the hardships and difficulties that Timothy would face as he served the Lord.
For any professing Christian who walks the path of commitment the message is, ENDURE HARDNESS.
FAINT NOT, FEAR NOT.
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT.
Tear down SPIRITUAL STRONGHOLDS
- False beliefs
You will get scars in the process.
Don’t be surprised about that. It’s normal.
Paul says here, endure hardness with me… The sense of it here is “to suffer hardship in company with.” Paul said to Timothy to share hardship with him for Christ. He is saying, be a partaker in afflictions with him. You’re not a one man army. You have brothers and sisters in arms, comrades around you who are also enlisted and in military service for the Kingdom of God.
The picture here is not of a picnic but of combat. Get ready for afflictions and trouble.
I think in some ways we are seeing the rise of a soft, effeminate Christianity these days.
A Christianity that only knows softness and ease. And so it’s no wonder that we have such weak, airy fairy Christians. The message seems to be to come to Christ and walk a path of ease and blessing.
Yet Christ calls us to A CROSS.
Just as a soldier patiently endures the hardships of the battlefield, Christians also must endure hardship because of their faithfulness to their Master.
Just as a soldier is drilled and disciplined for the fight. Paul, as a prisoner at Rome likely saw something of the severe training through which the emperor’s troops had to pass.
Paul was a soldier of Jesus Christ. …
How about you?
Are we in THE BATTLE ZONE or are we perhaps too easily settled into THE COMFORT ZONE?
Are you a THREAT to THE STRONGHOLDS OF THE ENEMY?
Maybe do something to stir him up a bit.
- Tell your family about Christ.
- Step over the line.
- Let’s stir up a fight.
At boot camp, the raw recruits are turned into soldiers by being taught to “endure hardness.” I have heard it said that the war is won at the boot camp more than at the battlefield. It is the hardening up of the soldiers to take discipline and learn endurance that makes them good soldiers.
(This following section has been copied and adapted in part -)
They learn the concepts of discipline and obedience. They endure hours of drilling, endless parades, long-route marches, constant pressure, tasteless food, guard duty, bullying sergeants, lectures, and exposure to inclement weather. The whole procedure is designed to toughen them up.
The Roman soldiers of Paul’s day were amongst the toughest, most disciplined, and most efficient soldiers in the world of that time. Paul had known many of them, and their example was in his mind when he reminded Timothy that he was a “soldier of Jesus Christ.”
Paul had been enlisted the moment he had accepted Christ. He needed to learn to “ENDURE HARDNESS.” A good soldier does not quit just because he faces a difficult task or a dangerous situation. He knows that his life is expendable, and he must be prepared to lay it down when required.
The word translated “endure hardness” means literally “to suffer evil, to suffer trouble, to endure affliction.” God does not hand out brochures offering all kinds of fringe benefits to those who become Christians. It is no picnic.
On the contrary, our Lord enlists His people as soldiers and calls upon them to engage in a battle that will not end until their death or until the Lord returns.
Even as Paul wrote, he was an embattled warrior, a prisoner of war who was sentenced to death. He would remain faithful to the end, and he wanted Timothy to have as much endurance as he did.
Paul’s Scars marked Him as a SERVANT and as a SOLDIER. His scars show us that WE MUST SERVE GOD, and SOLDIER ON, no matter what the scars.
Also, Paul bore the marks of a LIVING SACRIFICE.
The message for us is, BE STEDFAST, no matter what the scars.
Don’t let the scars stop you.
(1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
(2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Sometimes, when we face pain and hurt, we can get too easily discouraged and want to take an easier road.
It is easy to ease back, to not push ourselves, to lose the drive, to give up…
When a champion athlete has a devastating injury it could be the end of their career – or it could mean that they are getting closer to the gold medal. They hurt themselves or have a fall. We see champion cyclists do this a lot. Sportsmen and women have all kinds of serious injuries. But they get back up. They get back on the track. They press on. And we are called to this same mind.
This, likewise was the stamina of this man, Paul, who bore the marks of a champion athlete, and urges us on in this Gospel race:
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
(24) Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
(25) And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
(26) I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
(27) But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Paul is saying push through the pain barrier, keep on running, keep on striving to win through, discipline yourself. There’s sacrifice there. There’s determination.
Are you going through some toughness? The track is hard going? You are running out of strength? Your faith is being tested?
Paul says, PRESS ON.
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Will we be in that number of THE CHAMPIONS OF THE FAITH, as the men and women of Hebrews 12?
(1) Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
(2) Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(3) For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
(4) Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
Don’t let afflictions and setbacks deter you. Don’t let suffering and trouble put you off. Let them make you ever more STEDFAST.
Expect life to throw some afflictions your way. Things you’d rather not have to cope with. That’s par for the course. The Christian race is an obstacle race, a steeple chase, a marathon, a long distance event.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
Amongst us there are many wounded warriors bearing battle scars. Let us consider one another. Let us hear the rallying cry, and not turn back, but rather let us continue to march forward, together.
Pray for one another.
Encourage one another.
Forbear with one another.
One day all of my annoying characteristics that Julie knows only too well will be gone. Not that I have too many of them, of course.
Let us encourage one another. We’re in this together. We will stand and face the enemy together. That annoying fellow soldier who gets under your skin could be the one who shields you and carries you to safety when you are injured.
We don’t know how long we have with each other, to be able to do that. To encourage one another.
Life is a vapour. Love one another. Tomorrow could be too late to show your love and care for one another. One of you could pass away before you get another chance to.
Let us exercise…
- Bring Hope to the Broken
May this family gathering be a haven to the hurting. May we be a cohesive fighting unit in God’s army. Standing shoulder to shoulder.
We have a Saviour who knows what it is like to bear the scars of suffering. He did not turn back. He set His face towards the cross.
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
His wounds bring us healing today.
Scars can sometimes be GOD’S PLAN and GOD’S PURPOSE for our lives.
Scars are powerful SIGNS OF GOD’S GRACE, at work in our lives.
He STRENGTHENS us through our scars.
Suffering draws us to A GREATER DEPENDENCE upon our Lord.
Suffering draws us to find comfort in the scriptures.
The Word is our source.
The Word gives us life.
This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
The Word strengthens us.
He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
God gives us scars to remind us that we have been healed, we’ve been delivered; and we’ve been set free!
There are DIFFERENT types of MARKS we can bear.
We are told how one day it is going to be very trendy and popular to get yourself a tattoo.
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
The DEVIL wants to MARK you.
With some people you can see the imprint, the mark that is on them. They are clearly stamped as the devil’s property.
Sadly, sometimes it is SIN that can leave its mark on us…
Yet God’s grace is always greater than our sin. When He saves he makes up for all the marks sin has made upon us. And He wipes the slate clean.
We can take heart, that having a failure doesn’t make us a failure.
We may suffer…
- A wounded spirit
- Inner hurt and Depression
- Times of Bitterness and Chaos
- Deep internal wounds
But God is our SOURCE of WHOLENESS. We can BREAK FREE by HIS POWER.
Our scars can be to His praise. Scars can be a testimony to His work.
Scarred lives can make better instruments for God at times.
You could not accomplish the mission that God has for you without being scarred.
As Joseph could testify, It is for the good and not for the bad. God had planned it this way.
God’s power can change hearts and bring victories in the hardest of times.
He can help us overcome hurts and still be able to rejoice.
Let us glory in the cross.
- The scars of the cross
- The victory of the cross
- The power of the cross
Bearing the marks of a servant of the Lord.
The marks of a soldier of the Lord.
And bearing the marks of a living sacrifice for the Lord.
Let us live lives marked for His glory.
- Living out the fruit of the Spirit of Galatians 5.
- Our lives ruled by GOD’S PEACE presiding in our hearts.
- Our character such that we are considered to be men and women of integrity and humility
We WILL be MARKED MEN AND WOMEN, in the world, yet not OF it, not marked by THE WORLD, but marked by THE WORD.
Therefore, let us BE STEDFAST.
No matter what…
- The personal pain
- The Failures
- The Scars