Jesus’ scars remain.
I was talking with a man recently who was lamenting that, even though he knows he’s been forgiven for the many sexual sins he’s wrestled with throughout his adult life, he remains ashamed of this part of his life. He wishes it could all just go away.
What does it mean then that Jesus’ scars remain after His resurrection? Will ours?
When the final Resurrection comes and God’s Kingdom comes in all its fullness, will our scars be visible? What about the sins we’ve committed here on earth? Will we know each other’s dirty secrets from our earthly lives?
I think so. And this is good news.
Certainly the God-man, Jesus, had a choice in the matter whether His scars would remain after He rose from the dead. One fact we too easily miss about Jesus’ death is how utterly humiliating and degrading crucifixion was. Crucifixion was a unique form of execution that, in addition to being physically excruciating (from the Latin crux for cross), was conducted in such a way as to bring about the utmost humiliation to the person being put to death. Its victims were hung up high, naked and exposed, spat upon and reviled at well traveled roads outside the city. The message of crucifixion was that this person isn’t one of us, he’s less than human.
Fleming Rutledge writes in her book The Crucifixion, “If Jesus’ demise is construed merely as a death – even as a painful, tortured death – the crucial point will be lost. Crucifixion was specifically designed to be the ultimate insult to personal dignity, the last word in humiliating and dehumanizing treatment. Degradation was the whole point.”
Now Paul’s words make more sense to us: “[Jesus] humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8, italics added).
When Jesus invited His disciples to not only see, but even to touch His scars, He was inviting them to remember the most excruciating and humiliating time of His life. He was inviting them to remember His defeat, His powerlessness, His exposure, His nakedness, His shame.
How can this be, we might ask. Does this mean then that evil wins? If sin and death can leave their imprint in heaven, have they not won a victory? Have they not vandalized Heaven?
No. To read of Jesus’ scars this way is only because we have not tasted the fullness of His victory yet.
Every scar that remains, every remembrance of sins past, in Heaven only add to our joy. They do not proclaim the enemy’s foulness there, they proclaim God’s goodness. In essence, our scars, like Jesus’ scars, will shout: Look from what depths He raised me! Look how deep His love! Look how powerful a Conquerer!
“But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops” (Luke 12:2, 3).
P.S. Last summer, we asked our college intern to write a few posts about her experience as a young woman wrestling with issues of identity and intimacy as a Christ-follower today. Here’s her second installment. Her voice is one of many among college-aged women longing for something more, deeper, and more life-giving. If you or someone you love is a college-aged woman, please join us for more on May 4 for One:One!