The Stigmata of Christ

The Stigmata of Christ

“Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly – and indeed
you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy.
For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you
as a chaste virgin to Christ”
– 2 Corinthians 11:1, 2 –

In 2 Corinthians 11, the apostle Paul vehemently defended the gospel of Christ and was concerned for the church. Had he perhaps set a bad example for them? He did not think so (vv. 4-9). Paul behaved with dignity and humility, unlike mercenary pastors, who disguised themselves as apostles of Christ to deceive, just as the devil disguises himself to look like an angel of light (vv. 12-15).

The apostle described the extremely high cost he paid to keep active in the fulfillment of the mission: lashes, endless journeys, restless nights, attacks, and fatigue (vv. 24-28). However, Paul did not glory in any of that because in spite of all that, he understood that he was a fragile instrument of God (vv. 30, 31).

Since his encounter with Jesus, a passion intensified in Paul. What was it that made this man so passionate for the mission?

  1. Fear of Christ. Fearing men is different from fearing the Lord. Fear is what Joseph felt when Potiphar’s wife tempted him, and what Moses felt in the presence of God. To be before the message is to be before God Himself. Paul surrendered himself, was consumed, and expenden himself for the cause. He was not afraid of anything before men, for he feared God in everything.
  2. Love of Christ. This love left Paul no choise. However, Christ’s mission is not an imposition. Paul did not have a mission; the mission had him, tied with the common thread that runs throughout the Bible: the plan of salvation through grace.

The Jews considered themselves superior and were filled with pride because of a mark on their bodies: circumcision. Paul’s mark was not merely on one part of his body, but throughout his body. He himself was a mark for God and for mission.

“From now on, let no one cause me trouble,
for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus”
(Gal. 6:17).

In Greek, the stigmata was the brand that the castle owner put on his animals in order to recognize them as his own. This provided identity and belonging. An iron heated in the fire marked them forever.

Paul had the “stigmata of Christ” forever on his body. All of us have marks in our lives, but one, that of Christ, must be above all. We can take Paul as a great example of humility and total commitment to people and his mission.

The “stigmata of Christ”
was Paul’s mark.

What is yours? May the Lord guide you and be with you…