“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.

4 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?

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