December 20, 2020
This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, The Stars and Scars of Christmas.
Seven hundred years before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah foretold the coming Messiah: “Unto us a Child is born, and unto us a Son is given” (Isaiah 9:6). “A child is born” spoke of the Messiah’s humanity. “A son is given” spoke of His deity.
At Bethlehem, angels sang, shepherds worshiped, and a star pointed the way to the place of Jesus’ birth. But there’s a darker side to Christmas. When we imagine Him as a little baby in a manger, it’s unthinkable that those tiny hands and soft, dimpled feet would be pierced one day with hideous, cruel nails and would forever bear scars. And yet they were.
When Jesus came to Earth as a baby, He was born in Bethlehem. But as God, He has ruled from eternity. He did not have His beginning in a stable—only His birth, for He is co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father.
I’m going to give you a test with just one question. Are you ready? This is Theology 101. Is Jesus God or man? The answer to that question is “Yes.” He is the God-man, God in human flesh. As a man, Jesus was born to die. As God Incarnate, He died for our sins.
After God raised Jesus from the dead, the first time He appeared to His disciples, one of them, Thomas, wasn’t present. When he heard Jesus had been with them, he doubted Jesus could be alive. Yet the moment Thomas saw the nail prints in His hands and feet and the scar in His side where the centurion’s sword had pierced, Thomas immediately cried, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Those scars were all the proof he needed to know without a doubt that this was the risen Lord Jesus Christ. The scars Jesus bore are not incidental but so fundamental that He carried them with Him to Heaven.
Have you ever thought of this? The only man-made things you’ll see in Heaven are the scars of Jesus Christ. He took them home as a lasting memorial of His sacrifice through all eternity. And when He comes again, those scars will be one of the many ways we’ll know Him.
In Zechariah 13:6, the prophet foretold it:
And one will say to him, “What are these wounds between your arms?” Then He will answer, “Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends.”
As we think about the Lord Jesus being God Incarnate—God in human flesh—His scars tell us three things:
Often skeptics—or hurting people—will ask “If there is a God, how can you believe in one who allows evil? If God is love and is all-powerful, why does He allow so much suffering?” But there’s a greater question: not why do people suffer, but why does God suffer? Jesus’ scars tell us that God in human flesh suffered.
He [Jesus] was despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. (Isaiah 53:3)
Not only did He suffer when He was here, but God still suffers. God in His glory suffers. Ephesians 4:30 says, “And do not the Holy Spirit, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Grief is a form of emotional suffering. God in Heaven still suffers.
Why would God Almighty, who can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, choose to suffer? So that He can sympathize with us.
His scars tell us He understands. As a human being, He has been here, He has felt, He understands our pain.
For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)
Jesus said, When you suffer, I suffer. And because I suffer, I understand.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
When we see scars in Jesus’ hands, they are a testimony to His humanity. They tell us, as God, He suffered; as Man, He suffered. He understands. Jesus will hear the cries of a blind beggar before He hears the cries of a proud Pharisee.
Why did Jesus step out of glory to be nailed to that hellish cross? Why did He allow Himself to be crucified? Because, as God has explained, "... without shedding of blood there is no remission [of sins]" (Hebrews 9:22).
Jesus didn’t have to suffer. He could have refused the cross. He said, "No one takes [My life] from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again" (John 10:18).
It was not the nails that held Him to the cross; it was love. He didn’t have to suffer, but He chose to, because “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Why did God become a man? Our dominion was lost by a man, Adam; it must be legally regained by a man. That man is the Lord Jesus.
For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)
I’m so grateful Jesus did for me what I could never do for myself. The scars tell me that Jesus saves. Jesus came to Earth that we might go to Heaven. He was born of a virgin that we might be born again. Jesus became the Son of Man that we might become the sons and daughters of God. Jesus died that we might live.
Jesus received scars in His work of redemption, and if you follow Jesus, so will you. Suffering is inevitable just because we live in a fallen world. God had only one Son without sin, but He didn’t have any sons without suffering. As a child of God, we will know suffering too. There is also suffering that comes with serving the Lord Jesus Christ. If you think you’re going to get out of this world unscarred, you won’t.
In his desire to have the relationship he had with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul set everything else aside. He wrote, "…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings" (Philippians 3:10). He also said, "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus" (Galatians 6:17).
Are you reaching for a sedative these days rather than the Savior? Your scars may be your greatest ministry. A scar is a wound that has healed. When Thomas saw Jesus’ scars, and that He was risen, healed and victorious, those scars moved Thomas from doubt to faith. There are people who are going to believe in Jesus when they see your scars and hear you testify “Jesus has healed me.” I’ve seen it happen so many times.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
Are you hurting today? Do you have pain, problems, heartache? Bring your wounds to Jesus. He understands. He cares. He’s been there. Use your scars for Jesus. They may be your greatest testimony—that God has been with you, and that in Jesus…
…we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
In your mind, imagine our risen Savior. See Him on the throne of His glory. See in His hands the print of the nails, because He bears them for all eternity. See His nail-scarred hands reaching to you right now. If you’ve never done it, put your hand in that hand and say, “Save me, Lord Jesus. Thank you that You came to Earth to share our sorrows. Thank You that, as a Man, You suffered, You sympathized, and You saved.”
God loves you. He wants to save you, and He will save you if you’ll trust Him. Come to Jesus. Do it today.
Pray this prayer: Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that You love me and want to save me. Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God, who died on the cross to pay for my sins. I believe God raised You from the dead. I now turn from my sin and, by faith, receive You into my life as my personal Lord and Savior. Come into my heart, forgive my sins, and save me, Lord Jesus. In Your name, I pray, Amen.
If you prayed that prayer, let us help you with the next steps. Please click here for free downloadable resources or allow us to send you material in the mail to help you get started.