The Purpose of Scars

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

John 20:24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”


     Wounds take time to heal. Different sorts of wounds have varying recovery times. Cuts or burns in the mouth or on the tongue seem to recuperate fairly quickly. Wounds on the skin depend upon the location, if it is positioned where the skin bends for movement, it takes much longer to heal. Wounds in proximity of highly concentrated nerves hurt much more intensely. Injury to the spine endangers the body’s operating functionally. Damage to the brain has a much greater impact as it disrupts central processing. And although less measurable, a wound to the soul can be excruciating and debilitating.


     ‘Cut to the heart’ is a phrase used throughout the Scriptures to pictorially represent godly sorry associated with deep repentance . The idea that a wounded heart can humble us and draw us closer to the Lord is a difficult pill to swallow. We would prefer to learn about God’s attributes or work really hard at sanctification. However, there seems to be a pattern in the Bible where refining comes through suffering. It certainly fits the story of Jesus’ life. After baptism, Jesus was immediately tempted in the wilderness. His ministry led to a gruesome death at Calvary before the Resurrection. 


     This scene from John 20 shows us Jesus engaging Thomas’ unbelief. Thomas is uncertain that Christ truly was alive and well. Without tangible evidence, Thomas doubts the reality of the Resurrection. But notice Jesus’ patient humility with Thomas. Christ recognizes Thomas lack of faith, and whips out the scars from His wounds. Jesus shows Thomas the scars, and even lets Thomas feel them.


     This is rich in meaning. When we are traumatized, whether physically, emotionally, relationally, or spiritually, it is incredibly difficult to find purpose in our sufferings. It is very hard to make sense of the pain. But once in a place of refuge and safety, we can slow down and catch our breath. Now we can begin to assess the damage of our wounds, and explore the healing process.


     A healing process does not mean going back to normal. There are always implications from an injury. Jesus’ interaction with Thomas shows us a greater purpose in the scars. The scars are palpable. Thomas is able to see and touch and feel them. Scars contain stories of redemption, which provide hope to those who are struggling to believe. God uses our sufferings, whether committed against us or self-induced, to grow us in His likeness. The healed wounds are opportunities for us to love those around us by sharing corporeal hope. In Christ, we are privileged to have an opportunity to participate in redemption, and scars gain much purpose.