“Jesus of the Scars” by Edward Shillito

I was unable to confirm whether Edward Shillito (1872-1948) was actually a soldier during World War I or only writing from the perspective of one. In any case, he lived during the horrors of the Great War and published this poem in its wake, in 1919.

“Jesus of the Scars” by Edward Shillito

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow,
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars. 

The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.

If, when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know to-day what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.

The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.


Charles Lutyens, Crucifixion, 1984. Oil on canvas.

In contrast to the gods of other religions, the Christian God—Yahweh in Christ—bled and died for his people and suffers still, bearing all humanity’s hurts until the day when hurts will be no more. But even then, his scars will remain as a badge of honor, a reminder of his sacrifice on our behalf.

We all have scars of some kind, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. They cause us pain; they mark us. What a solace to know that our God, being the Compassionate One that he is, has scars too. In the sense of suffering, he is not above us but with us. He is our comrade in battle.

Like the speaker of this poem, may we have the vulnerability to show God our scars, and the boldness to ask to see his.

This entry was posted in Death / tragedy / suffering, Poetry, Theology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to “Jesus of the Scars” by Edward Shillito

  1. Pingback: Giants in the Land | Breaking Away: Jeff Block's Blog

  2. Tim S says:

    Reblogged this on abcworldmission and commented:
    Found this blog post as I was preparing this morning for the weekend event we’re running for folk from Above Bar Church – ‘Journey to Wholeness’.

    Jesus of the Scars has for many years been one of my favourite poems – although until today I only knew the last verse existed!

  3. Reblogged this on Magniflorious Homeschool Life and commented:
    We heard part of this poem during our small group Bible study tonight. I enjoyed it so much I thought I’d share this blog post. John is dealing with some troubling health issues and a pastor friend of ours passed away this week. Suffering happens all the time. I learn a little more with each encounter how to deal with it…and how not to. I hope you enjoy the poem and the commentary.

  4. Pingback: BreakPoint: Where Is God in the Storms?

  5. Ann Flett (nee Shillito) says:

    Edward Shillito did not serve as a soldier in the First World War. He was already 42 years old and was a minister in the Congregational church. He had a wife and 3 children one of whom was my father.

    • William Gillin says:

      Thank you for sharing. What an amazing poem!

    • Carolyn says:

      Yes, thank you, Ann Shillito Flett for sharing about your grandfather! His words are blessing me today.

    • Ann; Was your Grandfather Edward the son of Dr. James Shilleto of Hull , Yorkshire and later Essex. I am a descendent of his brother John or Jack Shilleto of Ulleskelf, Yorkshire who emigrated to Canada.

    • John Trotta says:

      Hi, I am John and i live in New Jersey. I collect things that catch my eye and one such thing is a watercolor painting of “The Liberation of Foggia by E Shillito 1945” and painted with the date 1965. I haven’t been able to find any other works of his. could this be the same E Shillito ? I love his work.

  6. Ups*forever says:

    Reblogged this on Heart2heart and commented:
    Jesus of the scars by Edward Shillito was one poem which always used to pierce my heart. Today re reading this poem and the bloggers description after a long time has only assured me again that He is a God who not only sympathizes with our sufferings but also empathizes with us as none of the scars we go through are new to Him. He is with us through the storms and the struggles of life. Jesus says in John 16:33 , But take heart ! I have overcome the world. So lets be assured that He who is in us is greater and with us.

  7. John Ward says:

    A truly remarkable and insightful poem. With this current lock down I miss the Eucharist, which means ‘thank You’ as it is where I can bring my broken self, (as I feed on Him in my heart by faith with thanksgiving) lay myself on the alter and allow Christ the Host broken for me to put me back together and give me back to myself in measure restored; an ongoing process. This poem helps me greatly as I pray and meditate on my own during this wonderful Easter time.

  8. James DONALD says:

    Thank you on New Zealand’s ANZAC Day

  9. Pingback: The Christian God is Anti-Fiat – HODLing Jesus

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