“Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (John 20:27)
We know precious few details about Jesus’ resurrection body.
It was the same body in which he died, and yet it was not only restored to life but changed. He was still human, but now glorified. What was sown perishable was raised imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:42). He could pass through doors and walls (John 20:26), yet eat solid food (Luke 24:42–43). His “natural body,” which died at Calvary, was raised and transformed into a “spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:44), new enough that those who knew him best didn’t recognize him at first (Luke 24:16, 37; John 20:14; 21:4) but soon enough knew it was indeed him (Luke 24:31; John 20:16, 20; 21:7).
But we know about his scars. This is the main way he confirmed to his disciples that it was truly him, in the same body, now risen and transformed. When Jesus first appeared to them, according to Luke, “they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit” (Luke 24:37). Then he showed them the scars:
“See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. (Luke 24:39–40)
The apostle John also reports that Jesus “showed them his hands and his side” (John 20:20), and he includes the account of doubting Thomas, who “was not with them when Jesus came” (John 20:24). Thomas insisted he must see Jesus’s scars for himself, to confirm it was in fact him. In divine patience, Jesus waited eight days to answer Thomas’s prayer, and when he finally visited, he offered him the scars. “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe” (John 20:27).
Treasure in the Scars
We might assume the Father would have chosen to remove the scars from his Son’s eternal glorified flesh. But scars were God’s idea to begin with. He made human skin to heal like this from injury. Many of our scars carry little meaning, but some have a lot to say, whether to our shame or to our glory. And that Luke and John testify so plainly to Jesus’s resurrection scars must mean they are not a defect, but a glory. What is the treasure that awaits us for all eternity in the visible, glorious scars of Christ?
First, Jesus’s scars tell us that he knows our pain. He became fully human, “made like his [us] in every respect” (Hebrews 2:17) that, as one of us, he could suffer with us, and for us, as he carried our human sins to die in our place. His scars remind us that he knows that it’s like to hurt in our human flesh.
Jesus’s scars also tell us of his love, and his Father’s. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Hymn-writer Matthew Bridges saw love in the scars and crowned him “the Lord of love” in his 1851 hymn “Crown Him with Many Crowns.”
Crown him the Lord of love
Behold his hands and side
Rich wounds, yet visible above
In beauty glorified
Here at Your Feet
Finally, Jesus’s scars — as healed wounds — forever tell us of our final victory in him. As the book of Revelation unfolds to us that ultimate triumph, it is our scarred Savior — “the Lamb who was slain” — who stands at the center of heaven and sits, with his Father, on the very throne of the universe (Revelation 7:9–10, 17; 22:1, 3). From that first introduction as “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6), Jesus is referred to (27 more times) as “the Lamb.” Heaven’s worshipers fall down before him, saying, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” (Revelation 5:12), and the book of life is said to be “the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 13:8; also 21:27).
Far from forgetting his suffering and shed blood, his people will celebrate him forever as the Lamb who was slain, the sheep with the scars, in whose blood they have been washed (Revelation 7:14), and by whose blood, they have conquered (Revelation 12:11). We will worship him with the beauty of his scars in plain view. They are no defect but a glory beyond compare.