The wounds of crucifixion on Jesus’ resurrected body

  • Question 209, from Jo, United Kingdom

    If, when you’re resurrected, all physical ailments and disabilities are cured, then why did Jesus still have holes in his hands from the nails which Thomas could put his fingers into after He was resurrected?

    There are three aspects to this question. Firstly, there is the understanding that post-resurrection human bodies are significantly improved versions of current bodies. The Apostle Paul writes about mortal, perishable bodies being raised immortal and imperishable (1 Corinthians chapter 15, verses 53-54). There are statements about heaven being a place with no pain or suffering (Revelation chapter 21, verse 4). Combining these leads to a conclusion that resurrected human beings will have new, immortal bodies that are not subject to sickness or disability.

    However, although there is this general sense of perfect bodies, this is not explicitly promised. Resurrected humans are still distinguishable individuals, and it would seem that the things that made them recognisable in their former life will continue. That’s not to say they will still be disabled or diseased, but some aspect of their pre-resurrection appearance will continue. Theoretically, any scars from pre-resurrection activity could be part of this continuation.

    The second aspect is that Jesus’ scars were not ailments and disabilities in the same sense as chronic diseases would be. There was a longstanding belief in Christianity that the method of death would have an impact on the form of the resurrected body, which is why heretics were often burned at the stake, and why many Christians prefer burial to cremation.

    This belief could well have been based on Jesus’ appearance with the wounds of crucifixion still in evidence. What is encouraging is that those wounds, which include the otherwise mortal wound in his side, did not seem to affect Jesus in his resurrection body.

    The third point is that the account of Jesus’ appearance to the disciples when he told Thomas to touch his wounds to dispel his doubt, does not actually say that Thomas obeyed him and touched him. Instead, Thomas falls to his knees and proclaims Jesus is God (John chapter 20, verses 24-29). This is an important declaration of who Jesus is that has been included by the gospel writer, presumably to leave the reader in no doubt that Jesus was resurrected and therefore divine.

    In Luke’s gospel, Jesus shows his disciples his hands and feet, but does not invite them to touch his wounds (Luke 24, verses 37-40). In this account the wounds are evidence that it genuinely is Jesus.

    This perhaps offers a clue to why Jesus’ resurrection body still bore the scars of crucifixion in the gospel accounts. It was a way of making the case that it was Jesus and not an impostor, therefore proving it really was Jesus coming back from the dead. Details of the wounds are included to overcome the scepticism of the reader and reinforce the points the gospel writers want to make about Jesus being the divine son of God.

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