On my right pointer finger, just above the main knuckle, there is a scar, roughly fifteen years old, possibly more. It came from the first pocketknife I ever owned—a three-bladed Case knife with a brown and burgundy handle. I was at home, trying to unscrew a tiny screw from a shadow-box I’d made at a church camp. I didn’t have a screwdriver, and since I’d just gotten the knife, it was still fresh in my mind. I decided to use one of the blades to take off the screw. If you’ve ever considered trying this, don’t.
The blade didn’t have a lock, so naturally it was beginning to close as I was pushing on it. Once it reached the point where the blade snaps closed, it snapped—on my finger. I dropped the knife and clutched my finger with my other hand. I didn’t know how bad I’d cut it, I just knew it hurt. I held my hand there for a minute, squeezing it to relieve the pain. When I finally let go and turned my hand over, I realized how bad the cut was. My entire left hand was covered in blood.
That’s by far the worst scar I have on my hands. But there are others, some that have been around longer than others, some that are slowly disappearing.
There’s a piece of graphite from a pencil that’s been stuck in my right ring finger for years. Right now, there’s a recent cut on the other side of the finger that’s still healing. A few years ago, I cut the second knuckle of my right pointer finger, and I’ve never been able to bend it quite as well since then. I used to be able to throw a decent knuckleball—nothing impressive, but I could make it do what I wanted most of the time—but I’ve never been able to throw it quite as well since the cut. I don’t even remember what the cut came from.
I was listening to an interview with a hospice worker a while back, and she was talking about the things she’s heard from people who are in their last stages of life. She mentioned one recurring topic that had stood out to her, and it stuck with me. She talked about how people had often made comments about their bodies, speaking about how they had taken the beauty of them for granted and how they couldn’t imagine giving them up. It made me think about my own body. I wondered: How many times have I just looked down at my hands? They’ve been with me my whole life, and they’re as reliable as anything. We even use the expression, “I know ___ like the back of my hand.”
Thinking about all this brought up another thought. When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, on one particular occasion, He appeared to all of them in a room. He had appeared to them once before, all of them except Thomas. When He appeared this time, He asked Thomas to come over and place his finger in the place where the nails had pierced His hands and where the spear had pierced His side, knowing that Thomas had said before that he wouldn’t believe unless he could do just that. Thomas came over and did so, and when he realized it truly was Jesus, he declared, “My Lord and my God!”
I love that moment in Scripture, but there’s something about it that strikes me when I think deeply about it. When Jesus appeared to them, he was in bodily form. We know from Scripture that it was His resurrected body, so why the scars? If Christ was speaking to them in the same body that he would later ascend to Heaven in, then why did he still have the scars?
This has me wondering: Will my scars still be there on my new body? Are there other things from this life that will be carried over into the next?
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”
-1 Corinthians 15:51-53
I don’t see how the scar from my Case knife will carry over into the resurrection, but I don’t know that this body will done away with altogether. Rather, Scripture gives us the image of a seed, speaking of how one form will be changed into another.
“When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. 37 And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. 38 Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. 39 Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
40 There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. 41 The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.
42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.”
-1 Corinthians 15:36-44
Just as Christ’s scars became the proof for Thomas, so too will these scar-ridden bodies become the proof of all that has been subjected to imperfection, and so too will the glorious healing of perfection become the fulfillment of God’s saving work. My earthly mind will never be able to fathom that until the perfection comes.
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
-1 Corinthians 13:12