Look on the Scars

“See,” the risen Jesus invited His disciples, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself” (Luke 24:39). It was not His fingerprints that Jesus offered for identification, it was His scars. This is supported by Jesus’ exchange with Thomas, who had doubted the report of Jesus’ resurrection, and said to his fellows, “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into His side, I will never believe” (John 20:25). Jesus presented His scars to Thomas’ disbelief saying, “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). In John’s celestial vision of the throne room of God, the interpreting angel consoles John’s grief by pointing him to Jesus: “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals.” When John turned to see the victorious Christ he “saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:5-6). In other words, John saw the risen Lord, glorious, yet still bearing the scars of His suffering and death. And just as Jesus invited the twelve to look on His scars, so John is compelled to look on the scars from Christ’s humiliation even as he adores Him in His exaltation. To our minds this seems so discordant—the glorious Lord victorious over death with an immortal body, bearing the scars of His excruciating death. Yet with John and the other disciples, we too are called to look on the scars of the risen Lord. In fact, we will see these scars forever. Why are His wounds visible in glory?

The scars we see on the risen Christ proclaim the victory of the cross. The cross may look like defeat. No doubt Christ’s enemies believed they had prevailed against Him. The cross, however, was not just a prelude to the glory of the resurrection. The cross was glory (John 12:23-28). The cross was the climax of Jesus’ perfect obedience (Heb. 2:10). It was the destruction of the devil (Heb. 2:14; Col. 15) and the death of death (Heb. 2:9; 1 Cor. 15:54-57). For eternity, the scars will proclaim the victory of Christ at the cross.

The scars we see on the risen Christ proclaim costly grace. Our only boast in eternity, as now, will be Christ crucified. His scars will show us in the coming ages “the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). With every look at the glorified Christ we will be reminded that “you were bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20).

The scars we see on the risen Christ proclaim the Father’s love for us. “God shows His love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

How deep the Father’s love for us, How vast beyond all measure That He should give His only Son To make a wretch His treasure. (Stuart Townend)

The scars we see on the risen Christ proclaim the perfect righteousness of God. The only way that we sinners would be reconciled to the holy God was that God’s justice would be satisfied against our sin. Christ died to “show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins.” Christ died to “show His righteousness at the present time, so that God might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25-26).

The scars we see on the risen Christ proclaim the love of Christ for us. “Greater love,” said Jesus, “has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Then He said to His followers, “You are My friends” (John 15: 13-14). John records, “Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1). That is the eternal message of the scars on the risen Christ.

The natural human inclination to the disfigurement of Jesus’ hands and feet is to look away. Yet Jesus says, “See. See My hands and My feet,” despite the discomfort, because there is no beatific vision apart from the scars on the risen Christ.

Crown Him the Lord of love; behold His hands and side,

Rich wounds yet visible above, in beauty glorified:

No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,

But downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright.