Beautiful Scars

Brian Keepers

Read: John 20:19-23

Jesus came and stood among them and . . . he showed them his hands and his side. (vv. 19-20)

It’s such a striking detail in the story. When Jesus appears to his disciples who are huddled behind locked doors, notice that they don’t recognize him by his physical features or the sound of his voice. It’s the scars that give him away! They recognize Jesus by his scars.

North African bishop Augustine of Hippo (354-430) believed that the ugly wounds of the cross didn’t just disappear when Jesus was raised from the dead. They were transformed into beautiful scars, symbols of Christ’s triumph over sin and death. Beautiful scars that are eternally visible in Jesus’ glorified body as he reigns at the right hand of the Father (Letter 95.7). “Crown him the Lord of love,” we sing in one of our best loved hymns. “Behold his hands and side, rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.”

If it’s true that Jesus still bears his scars and we recognize him by those scars, then perhaps the world will come to know his presence among us, as the body of Christ, through our own scars. Especially scars born from taking up our cross and following him. In his resurrection power, Jesus heals our pain and our deepest wounds. But the scars may remain. Rather than hide your scars, let God use your past wounds to point others to this “Lord of life who triumphed o’er the grave, and rose victorious in the strife for those he came to save.” —Brian Keepers

As you pray, ask God to heal your wounds and redeem your scars.