From now on let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
I. THE APOSTLE IS THE SERVANT OF CHRIST. The stigmata are the brands, the name of the master burnt on the slave. The most honoured of the apostles regards himself as the branded servant of Christ. To no higher honour can any Christian aspire. Christianity is living, not for self, but for Christ. We must all understand that Christ stands to us in the relation of a Master. Our part is to submit to his will. The supreme and peculiar Christian duty is obedience to Christ (John 14:21).
II. THE TRUE SERVANT OF CHRIST BEARS THE HARK OF HIS MASTER. St. Paul bore on his body the scars of the sufferings he had endured in the service of Christ. These plainly marked him as Christ's. Christians must all bear indications of Christ on their lives. It may be granted that St. Francis was none the better for having the wound-marks as of the nails of the cross in his hands and feet. Yet this strange condition was the last proof of his passionate identification of himself with Christ in thought and will and affection. So the Christian must ever have the Name of Jesus upon him in the Christ-likeness of his life. It is useless to have it merely on the tongue; it must be on the body, i.e. on the life.
III. THE MARKS OF CHRIST COME THROUGH SUFFERING FOR CHRIST. Thus St. Paul received his. They were brands burnt in by fiery trials. Suffering for Christ proves our fidelity to him and brings out our Christ-likeness of character. They who are like the rocky soil and receive the Word with joy, but cannot withstand persecution, may sing of the sweetness of the Name of Jesus in sentimental hymns; but they have no such Name branded on their persons. After all their enthusiasm has evaporated, we see nothing but self left. The Christian must deny himself for Christ. His life may not be so hard as St. Paul's. Rarely has such hardship been known as the great apostle endured; rarely have the brands been burnt so deep with such cruel fires. Yet all must have an experience that is similar in kind, though perhaps far less in degree. The sufferer, however, may console himself with the thought that the more fiery the trial he endures for Christ becomes, the deeper will be the sacred marks of the Name of Jesus upon him. For nothing makes us so Christ-like and nothing binds us so near to Christ as patient suffering and toil for his sake. This suggests the fear that it is no easy thing to be a Christian. Certainly to be a true Christian such as St. Paul was is not easy; it is the depth of self-renunciation and the height of arduous fidelity. Count the cost, then. Look at the irons ready to brand the Name of Jesus before consenting to become his servant. But look also on the other side, at what he suffered for us and at the glory of his service.
IV. THE BRANDS OF SERVICE SHOULD BE THE SECURITY OF THE SERVANT OF CHRIST. With such marks upon him, how dare any man trouble the apostle by questioning his authority? Suffering for Christ should be a confirmation of our faith to others. It should also be a security against the danger of unfaithfulness. How can he who bears the Name of Jesus thus conspicuously burnt in by hard trial and long service forsake his Master? Such brands should be eternal. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.