As mentioned in the last post, Christmas may not always bring happy memories of Christmases with family, with friends. Many suffer alienation, broken relationships, loneliness, and more. But it is for these people that God took on human flesh; the Father sent His Son to be that babe in Bethlehem.
By doing so, Jesus Christ lived in a sinful world filled with unfairness, injustice, jealousy, anger, hatred, and more. He fulfilled the perfect will of His Father, without giving into the many temptations; He was sinless.
We have a chief priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he didn’t sin. (Hebrews 4:15 GW).
Cradle not separated from the Cross
Jesus was wounded in the worst way possible. Jesus knew what it was like to be abandoned, forsaken, misunderstood, unjustly arrested and ultimately endured the horrible death by crucifixion. He didn’t deserve this, but willingly took it upon Himself. In the process, He suffered the wrath of God, paid the full penalty for all people. He did this to restore people to a right relationship with the Father.
Since then Jesus comes to the wounded (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually). But he does so because he is the perfect healer, or as Henri Nouwen puts it, Jesus is the wounded healer. That has implications for every Christian, especially pastors. In his book The Wounded Healer, Nouwen writes:
“No minister can offer a service without a constant and vital acknowledgement of his own experiences…Making one’s own wounds a source of healing, therefore, does not call for a sharing of superficial personal pains but for a constant willingness to see one’s own pain and suffering as rising from the depth of the human condition which all men share.” (Wounded Healer, 88)
Notice the vivid connection between the suffering faced by all people and the suffering endured in an individual’s heart. Nouwen’s term, “The Wounded Healer” is derived from this principal of understanding yet does not lie solely only in the sufferings of the individual but calls for the minister to look within himself and recognize the sufferings of a time in his own heart.
“For the minister is called to recognize the sufferings of his time in his own heart and to make that recognition the starting point of his service. Whether he tries to enter into a dislocated world, relate to a convulsive generation, or speak to a dying man, his service will not be perceived as authentic unless it comes from a heart wounded by the suffering about which he speaks.” (Wounded Healer, xiv)
For Christians, our ministering to others is based on this concept. It opens doors to bringing the Gospel to those who thought there was no hope, no joy, no peace. And truth be told, this will often surprise us, sometimes leaving us exposed as the walking wounded. Yet the Wounded Healer, Jesus, is there with us, having walked that same path.
The anger, alienation, hostility, despair of sin, and specific sins, have been taken by Jesus, this Child of Bethlehem. What had been walls of separation lead now to forgiveness, restoration, and joy. Not the artificial tinsel joy of a week or two but the enduring joy of life, even eternal life.
May Christmas find us as wounded healers bringing the true message of Christmas, the message of our Savior, our Wounded Healer.