Q&A: Jesus' Glorified Body

Jesus' Glorified Body

Question

When we are resurrected, our bodies will be perfect according to Scripture. My question is: Why did Jesus have the hole in his side when he was trying to convince Thomas that it was really him (John 20:27,28)?

Answer

John is not terribly clear in describing Jesus' body. When Thomas insisted that he would not believe unless he touched Jesus, he wanted to place his finger eis the mark of the nails, and he wanted to place his hand eis Jesus' side (John 20:25). When Jesus saw Thomas, he offered to let Thomas put his hand eis his side. Most Bible's translate the Greek preposition eis with the English word "into" in all three of these cases, but eis really has a much broader range of meaning than that. It may mean almost anything our English word "for" may mean, plus it may mean "in," "into," "onto," "upon," etc. For example, in John 21:6, Jesus told his fishing disciples to cast their net eis the right side of the boat. In this verse, not only is the preposition eis the same as in John 21:25,27, but the verb "cast" (ballo) is also the same verb generally translated "put" or "place" in John 21:25,27. In John 21:6, however, it is clear that Jesus was not telling his disciples to put their nets "into" the right side of the boat in order to catch fish.

The point is that we cannot tell from the Greek that Jesus or Thomas was really talking about placing Thomas' finger or hand inside Jesus' wounds. Both may just as well have been talking about simply touching the places where the wounds had been. The reason for this test is also unclear in John, but looking at the parallel in Luke 24:36-40 it appears that the test was probably designed to prove that Jesus was not simply a spirit (Luke 24:39). Perhaps the ancient assumption was that a spirit would not bear marks of prior physical injury, though a resurrected body would. Or perhaps the test was primarily to see that Jesus had a physical body, and the choice of places to touch him was to see that he had been healed. Thomas evidently was not satisfied with simply seeing the marks, but wanted to take up Jesus' offer to touch them (Luke 24:39) -- perhaps because the others failed to do so.

The most we can say is that Jesus' resurrected body probably bore signs having been injured prior to Jesus' resurrection. The fact that the disciples rejoiced at seeing his hands and side (John 20:20), though, suggests that these wounds had healed. Also the people who broke bread with him on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:1-30) might be expect to have noticed or commented on such horrible wounds had they seen them on/through his hands.

Scars do not qualify as imperfections because they are neither unhealthful nor unrighteous (compare Lev. 13:23,28). They are merely reminders of past healing and present health. In Jesus' case, they are also reminders of his great sacrifice and subsequent resurrection.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.