Recently, I mentioned I’m a fan of the Lord of the Rings books and movies. In the first book/movie, Frodo comes into possession of a magic ring. This ring is so powerful it controls all other magic rings in middle-earth.
The ring’s original owner, Sauron, learns Frodo has the ring and sends a group of wraiths to take it. Sauron wants the ring so he can enslave all free peoples. Frodo is warned the wraiths are coming and sets out with a group of friends to avoid capture. He hopes to learn what to do with the ring before Sauron reclaims it and ravages middle-earth.
At one point, the wraiths catch up to Frodo and his friends. They attack. During the fight Frodo is stabbed by one of the wraiths. The wraith’s blade employs a dark magic. Those cut (like Frodo) turn into wraiths. Frodo is rushed to the elves for magical/medical attention. The elves counteract the magic and stop Frodo’s transformation into a wraith. But Frodo is told the stab-wound itself will never fully heal.
As the series draws to a close, Frodo still has the wound. It remains an aching reminder of his encounter with the wraiths. The spiritual significance of this used to trouble me. LOTR is fiction, not a theological treatise. You can’t make one-to-one comparisons between LOTR’s reality and Christianity. But middle-earth is saturated with Christian spirituality. Frodo’s wound always seemed a highly theological image to me.
I didn’t (and still don’t) believe God heals in every instance. But a wound that would never heal made me wonder: Did Tolkien (LOTR’s author) lack proper hope in God’s healing power or in the resurrection?
Through years and life experiences, the Lord has broken me in ways I never imagined. This has left me with a sense of woundedness. At one point, I began to suspect I would never feel completely healed. Frodo’s wound began to make sense to me.
As I prayed about my state, the Lord brought scripture to life. First and foremost was the fact that Jesus had the wounds of the cross after raising from the dead. This helped me reframe my sense of brokenness. Instead of feeling like I couldn’t “get over it” or lacked faith, my wounds were a point of fellowship with Jesus.
Paul’s teachings about resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 added further dimension to resurrection wounds. He compares death to planting a seed and resurrection to the plant that grows from the seed. Jesus made this same comparison (John 12:24).
Death and resurrection are not separate events. They are organically connected. Death is the seed. It contains the germ and nutrients of life. From the seed comes the root system for sustained life. Resurrection sprouts from this seed and grows beyond it. But the plant never leaves the seed. It remains, anchored and nourished where the seed fell into the ground. Death is the root of resurrection.
The risen Christ didn’t have wounds merely as a nod to the cross, as if to say, “Yeah, I went through that but it’s all behind me now.” Jesus’s wounds show the continuing relationship of death and resurrection, a relationship He embodies. His body, the church, is also called to embody this relationship: Suffering and glory; endurance and reigning; emptying and exalting (Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:11-12).
Thank God for Frodo’s wound. I pray its truth will penetrate every Christian. Without such wounds there is no increase of spiritual life.