Picture Credit: L O O K, Creative Commons
A question that is occasionally discussed late at night around the campfire, or pizza boxes, is “Why did Jesus have wounds on his resurrection body?” Such a question will never be finally answered until the Second Advent, but I hope I am not straying off the straight-and-narrow with a bit of theological speculation on this subject.
Paul says that Jesus resurrection body was spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:44), heavenly (1 Corinthians 15:47), and imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:50). Likewise, his body was very physical (John 20:24-27, Luke 24:42). When Jesus appeared to his disciples in the days following his resurrection from the dead, he bore some of the marks of his execution on a cross (Luke 24:38-39, John 20:24-27). What might this mean? And what might it mean for us? After all, we will receive resurrection bodies in the same way that Jesus did (Philippians 3:21, 1 Corinthians 15:49, 1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
Here begins the speculation, because the Bible doesn’t really say what it means. I don’t think Jesus showed up after his resurrection bearing all of his wounds. He would have been a hideous mess who would been an unlikely candidate for the local gardener (John 20:15-16), let alone a sensible dinner companion (Luke 24:28-29). We know from the above that he had the holes in his hands, feet and side. We also know that he “was wounded for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5), and that he bore our sins in his body; that “by his wounds [we] have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
Could it be, then, that Jesus still bore scars on his post-resurrection body because those scars are a sign of the most beautiful of sacrifices? Those same scars made others whole, and brought life to those who had none. I think Jesus still bears those same scars today as he awaits the reconciliation of all things to himself, and that he will bear them eternally in the New Heavens and the New Earth. After all, the heavenly hosts sing a new song to the “Lamb who was slain.” (Revelation 5:9-12) Jesus will bear them proudly, as the symbol of his defeat of sin and death, and as a badge of his love for the church. Seeing as he’ll be a bridegroom, maybe they will be his functional wedding ring. They are a symbol of his faithfulness and love.
What about us? If we are to receive the same treatment, then does this mean that we’ll bear some scars? I think so. Have you noticed how elderly people have lines on their face? Sometimes they’re deep from much smiling, other times from frowning and tears. Maybe the father who slaved in the mines will bear a wound on his back from the countless hours he worked in order to provide for his children. Maybe the soldier who died in battle will bear the marks of the bullet that struck his heart. Maybe the mother who prayed and wept for her children will have scared knees and beautiful eyes which will speak of joyful sorrow. Maybe we will bear the marks of our godly sacrifices also. And maybe those scars, which were wrought in painful and troubling circumstances in this life, will be badges of honour in the next. They will be badges we can share with our creator-saviour Jesus, who’s scars and sacrifices we will be celebrating for eternity.