8

Being the Easter season I was reading this section a couple weeks ago and noticed something. I'm not sure if the passage is saying Jesus had actual holes or marks in his hands and/or side. All I can see it saying is that he showed them his hands and sides. But it says nothing of what they saw.

[John 20:19 ESV] On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." [20] When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Once this thought occurred to me I read Thomas' encounter carefully:

[John 20:24 ESV] 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!"

[29] Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Is Thomas' reaction because he saw the marks in the hands and felt a hole in Jesus' side with his hand, or was it a reaction to Jesus' presence and that he knew Thomas doubted? Was the reaction more to do with Thomas' being humbled by his disbelief and less to do with Jesus' body?

In both cases, being shown seems to be the proof that he is their Lord, which would seem to imply there were marks. However, recognizing Jesus after his resurrection seems to involve more than just seeing or feeling him, like how he walked with the men on the road to Emmaus and he wasn't revealed to their eyes until afterward.

Thomas' earlier statement could simply be an over-the-top claim. A loud denial exaggerating that he would need to feel Jesus' side. Thomas could see Jesus well, a man he knew and recognized, standing in front of him. Seeing his healed body when they knew it to be injured would almost be as much if not more proof of the power of his resurrection than seeing a man with open wounds walking around.

Summary

  1. Does the text demand that Jesus have actual marks in his hands and side or not?
  2. Does Thomas' statement of disbelief, what Jesus says to Thomas, and then Thomas' exclamation recognizing Jesus mean he saw or physically felt Jesus' side (with or without marks)?

I recognize there are some systematic doctrinal matters at play here regarding the state of Jesus body then and even how it relates to our own future resurrection. I'm fine with answers including this as support or background for an answer, but such influences should be acknowledged and stated as part of the answer.

  • <tangent>Clearly Caravaggio thought so! "...The depiction of the Incredulity of Thomas has a long tradition in the visual arts ... not only in paintings but also in sculpture, prints, and decorative arts, from Early Christian time through the Baroque era." Liana De Girolami Cheney, "Giorgio Vasari's Incredulity of Saint Thomas, 1569–1572", Visual Resources 27/1 (2011), pp. 90-105 (quote on p. 93). Cheney traces this handling of the tradition back to the 13th C: Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend.</tangent> – Dɑvïd Apr 15 '15 at 10:47
  • @Davïd And yet the marks on Jesus' hands are not visible in Caravaggio's "Entombment of Christ" OR "Supper at Emaus(1601)" Maybe he forgot? :o Granted the perspective is just so that perhaps they are obscured from our view. The second version(1606) in Milan you definitely can't see his hands. – Joshua Apr 18 '15 at 22:48
4

In verse 19 Jesus appears and shows them His hands and His side. Why does He do that? Either He is

  1. showing them that He no longer has wounds (He is resurrected and healed)
  2. showing them the wounds are still there as verification that He's not a spirit, etc.

Jesus goes, and Thomas comes and the disciples tell him what has happened. What does he say? That he wants to see the wounds. This tells us that it must have been (2) above, because if they had said, "Thomas - Jesus appeared and showed us his wounds have healed!" then Thomas would not have said, "I won't believe unless I see the wounds".

So it seems clear that the body Jesus had at that moment had wounds. It does not mean that He still has wounds, of course - a better body could plausibly heal any such wounds. Perhaps it's just not instantaneous, or He chose the wounds to still appear for a time to help the disciples believe.

  • Great deduction right out of the text! I definitely missed that connection between the first appearance and what Thomas said. Do you think Thomas actually did feel them? – Joshua Apr 14 '15 at 10:45
  • I think bearing in mind Thomas' response he would have been too busy falling on his face in awe and worship to first put his hands on Jesus' wounds. But we don't know this for sure. – Paul Dean Apr 14 '15 at 11:00
  • I'd have to agree, but I guess we don't know for sure. It just bothers me when I hear sermons really emphasizing Thomas actually feeling the mark, playing it up to make it more dramatic. Meanwhile there is plenty of real drama going on with Thomas' psychology and emotions that they are overlooking while they read something in that isn't even necessarily there at all! – Joshua Apr 18 '15 at 22:29
  • Hmm. It would be interesting to know why someone down voted this. – Paul Dean Apr 19 '15 at 7:13
  • Don't you mean "must have been (2) above"? – fdb Feb 7 '16 at 0:54
3

The New Testament appears to indicate that after his resurrection, Jesus remained disfigured with the scars from the crucifixion. That is, Thomas would have seen with his eyes the actual nail marks and other disfiguring marks from the crucifixion.

For example, in the Emmaus account the disciples had recognized Jesus after his resurrection only after he had raised his hands to break and bless the bread (Luke 24:30-31) -- the apparent implication here was that his hands bore the nail marks, and thus had triggered the association. Also, in the Revelation the Apostle John had seen in his vision of heaven "the lamb who was slain" (Rev 5:6). In this regard Alford (2010) comments as follows:

as if slain i.e. retaining the appearance of death-wounds on its body: looking as if it had been slain: cf. ch. 1:18. So the majority of Commentators: cf. especially Vitringa;—“vivens equidem, verumtamen insignitum nota majoris alicujus in jugulo vulneris, et conspersum sanguine.” [I'm alive but for the signs of a large gaping wound in the throat and the blood.]

Such apparent disfigurement may have been one reason many could not recognize him after his resurrection. In this regard, Barry, et al. (2012) comment regarding Mary Magdalene, who did not recognize Jesus on the resurrection morning:

[Mary Magdalene] did not know that it was Jesus. She may not have recognized Jesus because His resurrected form looks slightly different . . . from His previous physical form. It is also possible that she simply didn’t expect to see Him. Alternatively, Jesus may have been unrecognizable because He was so badly beaten during His suffering. It could be a combination of these reasons.

In summary, the New Testament indicates that Jesus had appeared to many people including Thomas after his resurrection with the disfiguring scars from the crucifixion. The permanent disfigurement may have been one contributing factor to their inability to make immediate recognition of him at the time.


References:

Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Jn 20:14). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Alford, Henry (2010). Alford’s Greek Testament: an Exegetical and Critical Commentary (Vol. IV). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 607.

  • Didn't make the connection with Jesus' being recognized when breaking the bread. I've always heard his not being recognized explained as a blindness put upon them by the Spirit until Jesus chose to be revealed ("their eyes were opened"). The "lamb who was slain" reference is interesting. Not sure if we can really rely an apocalyptic vision of John to be representative of Jesus in his time after the resurrection. So does Christ ever receive a transformed body? Not after His resurrection nor ascension? Or is he still disfigured in heaven now as you would imply from John's vision? – Joshua Apr 14 '15 at 1:48
  • @JoshuaBigbee - we have to take what we know from Scripture, and surmise the meaning. Is the same "lamb" whom John the Baptist saw at the River Jordan the same "lamb" that John saw in his vision of heaven? If Thomas touched the nail marks and spear piercing, could the "lamb" remain disfigured in his glorified body? Paul said that "flesh and blood" could not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 15:50), but the resurrected Jesus had described his resurrected body as "flesh and bone" (Lu 24:39) The conclusion is that Jesus has a glorified body, but this body is material and appears scarred for life. – Joseph Apr 14 '15 at 13:01
  • Yes but what was John the Baptist referring to? The sacrificial lamb! We're not disagreeing on that. I'm just saying that John the Apostle having a vision of a lamb as though it has been slain is only that, a sacrificial lamb. It is representative of Christ, but John knew Jesus, if it was Jesus standing there as though he were slain he would have recognized him and said so, but he said Lamb. It is consistent symbolism. Not something you can take literal to the point of making a conclusion about the state of his physical body before ascension. They are not remotely similar situations. – Joshua Apr 14 '15 at 13:47
  • We'd have to take any more discussion to a chat. Your other points were fine, but as my question said, I'm looking for evidence within the text. Not systematic support. Such systems would probably based on the belief that Jesus body was disfigured, not the other way around. So citing sources that don't deal with the text directly are most likely circular. Can you understand where I'm coming from there? The point of the question was to ensure that assumptions hadn't been made and then read into all the following text. I wanted to know if such conclusions could stand on their own. – Joshua Apr 14 '15 at 13:54
  • @JoshuaBigbee - the signal identification of Jesus Christ at the Second Advent will be seeing one "pierced" (see Ps 22:16 and Is 53:5 and compare with Zech 12:10, which is repeated in Jn 19:34, Jn 19:37, and then in Rev 1:7). The emphasis at the end times is the visual identification of one "pierced" (or one maimed by crucifixion), which will be the signal identifier of Jesus Christ -- which is, incidentally, how the disciples had recognized him after his resurrection. – Joseph Apr 18 '15 at 17:11
2

As noted by Paul Dean, the credibility of the resurrected body would be enhanced given that the body still bore the traces of the wounds, showing thus that it was the very same body that had received the wounds.

In fact, this is the logic of Thomas' demand to see the traces of the Lord's wounds, for this would indicate for him the identity of the dead body with the resurrected body, for the wounds were such as to lead to a necessary death, and therefore a real resurrection must have shown to him that even those wounds that caused the death are triumphed over by Life; and contrariwise, had he not seen the traces of the wounds, he would have had good grounds to suspect that this was a real body of Jesus, and even that it was the real Jesus.

Therefore, as regards Thomas, we have an either-or thing here: "either there are traces of wounds and then I believe, or there are not traces of the wounds and then I do not believe". That is to say, Thomas does not doubt that somebody claiming to be resurrected Jesus appeared to the disciples who told him this, he just says that unless he verifies this somebody's body, he will disbelieve in the reality of Jesus' resurrection and hence not share the jubilation of the rest of the disciples.

Exactly this clear logic and unequivocal expectation of Thomas is understood and responded by Jesus when He expresses His readiness on behalf of Thomas to let him touch His hands and side (the traces of the wounds on them) and get assured of their reality. Had He not have those real traces, all the above mentioned logic is ruined and, moreover, Thomas would have been left with a suspicion and disbelief so as to think: "if it is really the resurrected Lord, then how could it possibly be that those horrible piercings on His hands and legs, and that wound from the spear are not even visible in Him? No, something is not kosher here!" - and it is absolutely impossible that with such doubts and suspicions he could merrily exclaim: "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28), acclaiming Jesus's Divinity even clearer than Peter (Matt 16:16), who's acclamation was still implicit (the "Son of God" implicitly meaning that He shares the same nature and dignity with the Father).

Thus, it would be totally ruinous to the passage's clear logic if Jesus' resurrected body had not bore the traces of the wounds.

1

When Y'shua returns and stands upon the Mount of Olives, how will the Jews know that this person is Him and not some other long awaited for Messiah? Zechariah 12:10 says that "They shall look upon Me whom they have pierced and mourn for the ONE (HaYachid), and grieve on Him like weeping for a firstborn.

What will differentiate Him and make Him identifiable to the Jews from any other is the pierce mark through his side, and the bores in His hands and feet. They are His badges of Honor and when they realize that,they will begin weeping and mourning because the One that they have been fighting against all along has returned the second time to deliver them from the nations that are surrounding Jerusalem.

0
  • Luke 24:36-43.

    Jesus showed the disciples his hands and feet, saying:

    A ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.
    -- Luke 24:36 (NIV)

    The disciples were filled with joy and amazement. Would they be amazed at holes in his hands and feet, or would they have joy and amazement at a complete healing?

  • John 20:27-28.

    Jesus had Thomas put his finger out to touch him and invited him to see his hands and put his finger into his side. What we need to notice is what is not said... nothing is said about scars or holes, instead, Thomas worships Jesus. Would he worship Jesus as God with only a partial healing? Would John acknowledge Jesus as the Word, as the creator of all if he was not fully healed?

    At the crucifixion, Jesus's skin, muscles, and sinew were falling off of his body. He had been beaten to utter unrecognition as a human. Why would only some of these wounds be healed in the ressurection? Why keep the piercings in hands, feet, and side? Does God really not have the power to heal himself?

  • Matthew 28:9.

    The women bowed to him, clasped his feet, and worshiped him. No mention of scars, and again, they are worshipping him as God.

Not one of theses scriptures mention scars or holes; in each the people are amazed and in all of these accounts Jesus is worshiped as God. Was Thomas amazed and believed because he saw scars, or because he didn't see them, but instead saw that Christ was fully healed?

As was previously stated, we cannot make an assumption, such that Jesus had scars and wounds, and then read it into the text when it isn't there.

In the Old Testament, Ps 22:16, Is 53:5, and Zech 12:10 are all referring to people looking at Jesus on the cross. It is a stretch to say these verses are referring to the second advent. Rev.1:7 is saying that when Christ does return, everyone will see him, including those who hung him on the cross and watched him die. It does not say anywhere in scripture that he will be recognized at the second coming by his piercings, scars, or wounds. Nor does it say anywhere in scripture that he still had piercings, scars, and wounds after the resurrection.

  • Welcome to BH.SE! When you quote text from the Bible, use '>' as the first character of a new paragraph, and include the version you are using. I added some bullets ("*" or "-" character followed by a space, to start a paragraph) so your examples would stand out. Read the Markdown help page for more info – enegue Jun 3 '17 at 21:41
  • BTW. The downvote didn't come from me. I don't believe they help anyone. – enegue Jun 3 '17 at 21:41
  • I don't see what's worthy of a downvote in this answer. Jesus doesn't seem to be particularly noteworthy until he reveals himself, as someone covered in wounds would be. Mary thinks that he is the gardener (Jn 20:15), which seems unlikely if he is bleeding. - And "why would Jesus keep only these three wounds" is an incredibly good question. - Your point that we should watch our assumptions is important. Just because Jesus says "Put your hand into my side" doesn't mean that Thomas actually put his finger in a hole. I'm upvoting. – Chris Strickland Oct 23 '17 at 22:45
0

There seems to be decent evidence within the passage itself that Jesus did have the wounds, at least at this point. John 20:19 says that Jesus showed them his hands and his sides, and then verse 20 says "then they were glad when they saw the Lord" (emphasis mine). The disciples did not recognize Jesus, at least at first, but the marks in his hands and side would have convinced them that he was in fact Jesus. These were the marks of crucifixion, no living person would have them, unless their crucifixion was not finished but they were taken down before they died. It seems that, at least at this point in time, Jesus did have his wounds.

However, he may not have had them later, or during his other appearances, as it seems the wounds would have made him easy to identify, but Mary (John 20:14-16) and the two men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-16) do not recognize him. While Luke specifically mentions that the eyes of the two men walking to Emmaus were kept from recognizing Jesus, it seems rather unlikely that they would fail to notice the holes in his hands during a seven mile walk (which would have taken about two hours) and then dinner. Mark 16:12 says that he appeared to them "in another form."

I asked a similar question yesterday, and while mine focuses more on why he went unrecognized, it mentions and discusses a number of verses that talk about Jesus post resurrection, which may help to try and figure out if and when Jesus had the marks of crucifixion after his resurrection. That thread is here: Why was Jesus consistently not recognized by those who knew him after his resurrection?

-2

The Bible says that Jesus “was put to death in the flesh but made alive [resurrected] in the spirit.”—1 Peter 3:18; Acts 13:34; 1 Corinthians 15:45; 2 Corinthians 5:16.

Jesus himself said he would give up his flesh as a ransom for all (John 6:51; Matthew 20:28) If he took on his flesh or body again that had died the ransom would be canceled. This didn't happen the Bible says that he sacrificed his flesh and blood “once for all time.”—Hebrews 9:11, 12.

If Jesus was raised up with a spirit body could he be seen at all?

Spirit creatures can take on human form. some angels in the past did this they could even eat and drink just like a physical man does (Genesis 18:1-8; 19:1-3) but they were still spirt creatures and could sluff of the material form instantly (Judges 13:15-21).

After his resurrection, Jesus could do the same as those angels and materialize a temporary body. But as a spirit creature he too was able to appear and disappear suddenly. (Luke 24:31; John 20:19, 26) and he appeared multiple times in different manifestations not always identical in appearance. That's why even close friends only recognized him by what he said or did.(Luke 24:30, 31, 35; John 20:14-16; 21:6, 7.)

So when Jesus appeared to Thomas he appeared with a body that had wound marks to help Thomas who doubted his Lord could really be alive again (John 20:24)

  • Kris - Thank you. Can you hyperlink your verse references for us so that readers can view them online? (Also, please see our tour if you have done so already.) Also, what are your thoughts at the appearance of Jesus in heaven as one slain in Rev 5:6 ? In this regard, many people did not recognize Jesus after his resurrection - was this because of his defaced facial and body features? – Joseph Feb 6 '16 at 17:52
  • @josephI will try to get my daughter to do it I am a bit illiterate on the digital devices – Kris Feb 6 '16 at 19:14

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