The Scars of Jesus

Bible Book: John  20 : 27
Subject: Crucifixion; Salvation; Cross of Christ; Suffering of Jesus

John 20:27: “Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.”

You know, after the Lord Jesus came victoriously out of that grave, He appeared to His disciples. The first time He appeared to His disciples, Thomas was not there. And when the other disciples told Thomas they’d see the risen Lord, Thomas didn’t believe it. He said, “I would have to see the prints in his hands, I would have to see that wound in his side before I would believe that he’d been raised from the dead.” And, with that in mind, I want you to listen as we read here in John chapter 20, verse 24: “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said unto them, ‘Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace be unto you.’ Then saith he to Thomas, ‘Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said unto him, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Jesus saith unto him, ‘Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.’” And, by the way, you can just put your name by that verse, Amen? He’s talking about you. He’s talking about you dear friend. “Blessed are they,”— Jesus calls you tonight “blessed” — ”Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

Thomas said, “Unless I see the print of the nails in his hand. Unless I thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Here’s a question, I think you already know the answer, what is the only manmade thing in heaven? The only manmade thing in heaven are the scars that Jesus still bears in His hands and in His sides. Did you know that Jesus took those scars to heaven with Him? Those scars that men made, Jesus transported those scars to heaven. You say, “Pastor, how do you know that is true?” Well, the Bible describes when Jesus comes again and the Bible describes that in Old Testament prophesy in Zachariah chapter 13 in verse 6. And it speaks of those who will behold the Lord when He comes in His glory and His resurrected body: “And one shall say unto him, ‘What are these wounds in thine hands?’ Then he shall answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’“ He will have those scars with Him, and does have those scars with Him now, and will have them for all eternity.

I. He Is a Suffering God

Now, I want to mention to you tonight three things that we can learn from those scars in that nail-scarred hand. The very first thing that we can learn is: That Jesus literally suffered. Those nails caused indescribable pain. It’s not just the piercing of the nails but it is that hanging upon the cross, the convulsions, the injury to the median nerve that caused every nerve in His body to be a pathway for the footprints of pain to make every part of His body a river of anguish. Jesus did not suffer as some kind of a phantom, as a God who would just say, “Oh well, this doesn’t bother me.” Jesus suffered in indescribable anguish. These scars tell us about the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now some people don’t believe in God because of what they call the problem of science. They don’t believe in the supernatural, they think it is superstition therefore they don’t believe in God for that reason. Oh but let me tell you, there’s a bigger problem for most people, and it’s not the problem of science, it’s the problem of suffering. Over and over again people will ask this question, “If there is a God, why is there so much suffering. Why doesn’t God do something about all this suffering?” And so they begin to think, “Well maybe he has the power to remove suffering but he really doesn’t care.” Then that would mean He’s a God of no love. Or they say, “Maybe he really does care and wants to remove the suffering but he doesn’t have the power.” Then that means He’s a weak God. Or maybe they say, “Well maybe he has no power or no love. Maybe there’s no God at all, why all this suffering?” And every one of us can think of times when we have seen suffering and we’ve said, “Why does God allow this?” 

I mean if you’ve been a pastor very long friend, you’ve been to the hospital sometimes when you would just have to say, “God, why? Why?” And sometimes there are questions that I would never ever endeavor to answer. But I want to tell you something, precious friend, there’s a bigger question than, “Why do we suffer?” and it's “Why does God suffer?” These nail prints tell us that God suffered. Jesus was God in the flesh and it was God that was suffering.

And there are scriptures that teach us that God suffers, Isaiah 42, verse 14. God’s speaking of His people and He says concerning them and over them, He says, “I cry like a travailing woman. God says, “I feel the pain that a woman feels when she’s giving birth.” Ladies tell us, you men will never know the pain of bringing a child into this world. Well, God knows. God says, “I cry like a travailing woman.” In Isaiah chapter 63, verse 9, God speaks of the affliction of His people and the Bible says, "In all of their affliction, He was afflicted."

Now God suffers. God can suffer and really it makes sense if you think about it. If you’re a father, don’t you suffer when your children suffer? When I had my first child whose name is Steve, my pastor told me, “Adrian, now you’re going to learn more about the love of God.” He said, “Before you have your own children you’ll think about how much Jesus loved you that He died on the cross, but now that you have your own children you’re going to think about how much God loved you that He gave His own Son.” And that is true. My little son had to have surgery when he was just a little baby. And I can tell you I can remember standing in that hospital in New Orleans and looking at that little fella when they were wheeling him away and I thought, “They’re going to cut on his little body.” And everything in me said, “Oh I wish, I wish I could do that for him.” But I can tell you folks, to have sons, to have daughters means that somewhere, somehow you’re going to suffer, isn’t that true?

And you know, you think about it, the Bible says in Ephesians chapter 4, verse 30: “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.” Did you know God’s Spirit can be grieved? And by the way, that’s one of the great proofs of the trinity and one of the great proofs of the personality of the Holy Spirit. Jehovah Witnesses’ tell us the Holy Spirit is only a force, an emanation coming from God. Oh no, you can’t grieve a force. The Holy Spirit is a person. “And grieve not the Spirit of God; whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” And do you know the only thing that causes grief is love. Your lawn mower may vex you; your children grieve you, right, because you love them.

And why is the Holy Spirit grieved? Because He loves us so much. You think about it. Does God suffer? Well, does a father suffer when his children suffer or when his children do wrong and grieve him, of course. Or let me put it this way, Jesus is the head of the body, the church is the body of the Lord Jesus Christ. Well, when the body hurts does the head know it? Does the head suffer when the body feels pain? There are messages of pain sent to the head from all over the body when the body suffers. And the body of Jesus Christ is suffering today. There are Christians who are being put to death and being martyred, and His body feels pain.

When Jesus confronted Paul, who at that time was Saul, who was on the road to Damascus, Jesus confronted him with this question, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Well, who was Paul persecuting? The church, but Jesus said, “You are persecuting me.” The point is clear; to persecute the church is to persecute Jesus. And when the church suffers, Jesus suffers. Paul talked about filling up the sufferings of Christ. He wasn’t talking about His sufferings on that cross but His continual sufferings where the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is persecuted.

I want to ask you another question: If a husband has an unfaithful wife, do you think that man suffers? Of course he does. To learn that his wife, who pledged to be true to him to him only and to him always, has been an adulteress, well don’t you think that our Lord’s heart is wounded when His bride is unfaithful to Him? “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity”—warfare—“with God?” Don’t you think that the great heart of the Savior, the heavenly bridegroom, hurts when He sees some who are unfaithful to Him? The scars tell us this; that He suffered. The scriptures tell us this; He still suffers. And the next time you have difficulty wondering why human beings suffer, let me just make the question even bigger and harder, “Why would God suffer?”

Now, you and I suffer because sometimes we can’t help it. I mean we don’t have any choice about it. But God is God; God doesn’t have to do anything.

II. He Is a Sympathizing God

So why does God willingly, deliberately, choose to suffer? Why those scars? They tell us number one; He’s a suffering God. And that tells me number two; He’s a sympathizing God. When you see those scars when He comes again, they will be a lasting memorial to the fact that He knows, He feels.

Listen to Hebrews 4, verse 15: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted”—tested—“like as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus knows pain. Don’t think He doesn’t understand the pain that you go through. Because He’s a suffering God, He’s a sympathizing God. The shortest verse in the Bible in the English is this: “Jesus wept.” He was a man of sorrows. He was acquainted with grief. The Bible speaks of the Lord Jesus seeing the multitudes; the Bible says He was moved with compassion. The word “compassion” is a compound word, “com” meaning, “with and passion to feel.” That’s the reason we call the suffering of Christ the passion play. It speaks of the sufferings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He was moved with compassion and this is; He feels what we feel. And those scars tell us that the pain of man has become the pain of God.

Pain, therefore, is not a sign that God does not love us. As a matter of fact, God’s love allows pain. God said to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, “Cursed is the ground for your sake,” not for your punishment, “for your sake.” Living in a world that has the curse of sin, it must also know the curse of suffering for our sake. Think about what pain does.

A. The Protecting Purpose of Pain

There’s the protecting purpose of pain. Dr. Charles Bran, a physician who worked so long with the lepers, a great Christian man, said that the lepers sometimes will not shift their feet when they walk as you and I do, or when we jog, and they just literally wear away their toes and wear away the bottom of their feet because they can’t feel. Sometimes when they smoke cigarettes they’ll smoke the cigarette right on down until it burns their fingertips and not feel any pain. It’s pain that has a purpose. There’s the protecting purpose of pain.

B. The Unifying Purpose of Pain

Then there’s the unifying purpose of pain. It’s pain that makes us need one another. You know the Bible speaks of the body of Christ and it says when one member suffers every member suffers with it. 1 Corinthians chapter 12 in verse 26. It’s our pain, our sorrow that keeps us from being so independent. John Wesley’s mother was asked, “Which of your eleven children do you love the most?” Can you imagine asking her that? Boy she wasn’t caught flat-footed, here was her answer, “I love the one who is sick until he is well and the one who’s away until he comes home.” You see there’s something about love that just draws us together.

C. The Corrective Purpose of Pain

Then there’s the corrective purpose of pain. If you put your hand on a hot stove, that pain sends a message to your brain and says,” it’s hot down here” and your brain sends a message back to the hand and says, “then move.” And it goes just like that. But that pain has to go all the way to the head and back before the hand moves. You see, the universe has a disease and God cannot remove the pain until the last vestige of sin is gone. The worst thing that could happen to human beings is to live in a world cursed by sin and yet the world seems to be a paradise. We would never come to God.

And pain comes in all forms not just physical pain. There’s emotional pain and spiritual pain. Have you ever wondered why we have so many today who are on drugs, so many teenagers? They’re trying to kill the pain. They’re trying to get themselves to where they cannot feel. Why do people drink? Because they are trying to kill the pain, they are trying to drown their sorrows; we’ve heard that, haven’t we? Of course they find out that those sorrows can swim. First a man takes a drink and then the drink takes a drink and then the drink takes the man and he has double sorrow. But that’s why they do it.

Why do men and women go off and have an extramarital affair, commit adultery? They are trying to kill the pain of loneliness, pain of insecurity. Why do people watch so much television? They just don’t want to face life. They don’t want to think. It’s too much pain if they ever sat down and thought seriously about the issues of life. They watch television until their eyes get big as coconuts and their brain the size of a pea, just wanting to amuse themselves. The word “amuse” means, “not to think.” You put the alpha prefix in front of a word; “a” means “no.” A museum is a place where you think. Amusement means, “not to think.”

But why do we get all these sedatives? Whether it be an affair, whether it be amusement, whether it be drugs or alcohol, we’re trying to kill the pain. People don’t need a sedative; they need a savior. And the problem is they’re going to the wrong place. The scars tell us this: number one; He’s a suffering God. They tell us number two; He’s a sympathizing God. He knows, He feels, He is touched with the feeling of your infirmity. He cares for you and you can cast all your care upon Him.

III. He Is a Saving God

But here’s the third thing that those scars tell us, those scars tell us He is a saving God. You see what is a scar? A scar is a wound that has healed. Isaiah 53, verse 5, listen to it, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” He was wounded; he was pierced with those nails for our sins. Now He didn’t have to suffer but He invaded our sufferings so number one, He could bear them, so number two, He could heal them. And a scar is a wound that is healed.

I want to ask you a question. Suppose you’re taking your dream vacation, I mean the absolute vacation that you and your wife have saved money for, you’ve gone to this place, and everything is wonderful. It’s going to be the best time that you and your wife have ever known. And let’s suppose that the children that you’ve left back home have your phone number and they know where you are. And let’s suppose your son or your daughter is in an automobile accident, a serious automobile accident. Now there’s nothing you could do. I mean you’re not a physician, you’re not a doctor, there’s nothing you could really do to make them better. I want to ask you a question: Would you want to know about it? Or, would you say, “No I don’t want to know about it, it would ruin my vacation.” Would you want to know about it even if there was nothing you could do? I’ll guarantee you; you would want to know about it. Why, because of your great love.

Why does God choose to suffer? For the same reason. And only a greater reason, that you would leave that vacation spot and enter into their suffering with them. And the difference is God can do something and God has done something and that’s why He has come down to this earth because He’s a saving God. Phil Donahue said this one time, he said, “How could an all-knowing, all-loving God allow His son to be murdered on a cross in order to redeem my sins? If God the Father is so all-loving, why didn’t He come down and go to Calvary?” Of course the answer is, that’s exactly what He did. That’s exactly what He did. 2 Corinthians 5, verse 19, “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” God came down, the suffering God, the sympathizing God is the saving God.

Now those scars are wounds that have healed to show us that a price has been paid. Listen to me know, Jesus had some scars and if you follow Him you will have some scars. Colossians 1, verse 24, Paul speaks of filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ, “in my flesh.” Do you suffer for Jesus? Do you have any scars? They don’t have to be physical scars; they can be emotional scars and spiritual scars. Here’s what Paul said in Philippians chapter 3, verse 10,”That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.” We say, “Well, yes I want to know the power of His resurrection.” Now listen to the rest of it, “And the fellowship of His sufferings.”

You’ll never have sweeter fellowship with Jesus than when you suffer for Him. That’s one of the secrets that I have learned in life. When you stand for Christ and for whatever reason you’re misused, abused, criticized, or whatever, and you know that He knows that the reason that’s happening is because you’ve been true to him, I’m going to tell you something folks, He’ll never be sweeter and more meaningful to you than at that time. It’s what the Bible calls, “the fellowship of His suffering.” It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. That was the ambition of the Apostle Paul, “That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.”

Now, Paul said in Galatians chapter 6, in verse 17, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus,” literally the scars. The Greek word is the “stigmata,” the word we get our word “stigmatism” from. It was a brand like a slave would be branded. He said, “I bear the brand marks, the stigma, and the scars of following Jesus.” Now Paul could say that literally. I mean, he had literal scars. Most of us don’t have any scars; we are more interested in stars, but he had scars. Jesus in that upper room showed them the wounds in His hand that had been healed.

Now listen to me very carefully. Your scars may be your greatest ministry. What was it that caused Thomas to believe? The scars. Why, because a scar is a wound that is healed. And when Thomas saw that, it was not that Thomas believed in the resurrection when he saw the crucifixion, it was when Thomas saw the wound that was healed in the hands and in the side of the Lord Jesus. It was then that he fell down and said, “My Lord and My God.” When people see you suffer for Christ and see Him give you comfort and see you healed or see you go through any suffering, whether it comes from any source, and receive strength from Christ, that will be your greatest testimony.


And I’ll tell you one thing, the world says anybody can be a Christian in the sunshine. But, oh friend, when we use our scars as a testimony, where God comforts us and thereby we can comfort others with the same comfort where with we ourselves are comforted of God, what a testimony it is. Let me tell you about the scars of Jesus that Thomas saw after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They tell us that Jesus Christ is a suffering God, He is a sympathizing God, He is a saving God. And today, if you hurt, I’ve got some advice for you: Bring your wounds to Jesus and use your scars for Jesus. And if you’re lost tonight and not saved, I want to remind you that those scars tell you that your sin debt has been paid in full.

Now don’t try to block out the pain with sedatives and at the same time block out God. Bring your sin, bring your sorrow to Jesus and you put your faith where God put your sins, on the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray this prayer: Dear God, I know that you love me. Now those scars show that you love me and I know Lord that you’ve been victorious over the grave and those scars prove it. And now Lord Jesus, I want those wounded hands, those nail-pierced hands, to take my sin. Oh Lord, forgive my sin, cleanse me, come into my heart Lord Jesus and save me. In your holy name I pray, Amen.