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THE WOUNDS OF CHRIST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
 Lord's Day Morning, March 31, 2002


"And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet" (Luke 24:40).


I am giving you a simplified version of Spurgeon's sermon "The Wounds of Jesus" (January 30, 1859). This is Easter morning, and I cannot think of a better way to spend it than for us to think of the wounds on the hands and feet of our resurrected Saviour. And no one ever spoke more eloquently on this subject than great Spurgeon.

What did the Disciples see on Christ's hands and feet? The prints of the nails were visible. In His side was the gash of the spear. He said to Thomas, "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing" (John 20:27). Our Lord, when He rose from the dead, still had in His body the marks of the crucifixion. If He had wanted to, He could easily have removed those wounds. He could have erased from His body every sign that He had suffered on the Cross. But, no! Instead, there were the pierced hands and feet, and there was the open wound in His side. What was the reason for this? There was no absolute necessity for it. He didn't have to leave these marks on Himself. What then was the reason for leaving those wounds? I will attempt to give some of the reasons, and I hope what I say will help you.

I. First, what use was there in showing those wounds to the Disciples?

I say that they were infallible proofs that this was the same Jesus they had known and who had been crucified. He said, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself" (Luke 24:39). It was to establish His identity - to show them that it was really Him. He was the very same Jesus whom they had followed, whom they had deserted, whom they had seen afar off crucified and slain, and whom they had carried to the tomb. It was the very same Christ who stood before them now. And so they would know it, He showed His wounds to them. He was the same person. His hands and feet proved it.

If He had not shown them such evidence, it is probable that His Disciples would have been unbelieving enough to doubt that it was really Him. Have you ever seen a person who looked much different from the last time you saw Him? I knew a man, five or six years ago, who had gone through great suffering and pain. And when I saw him again I said, "I wouldn't have known you if I had met you on the street."

The Disciples parted with Jesus at the Lord's Supper. They then walked with Him into the Garden of Gethsemane. It was there that Jesus sweat, "as it were great drops of blood" (Luke 22:44). Don't you think that such an ordeal would have changed His appearance? This was not all. He was beaten across the back, which was horrible in what it did to a man. The hair had been pulled from His beard, and He had been beaten in the face. Then He was nailed to a cross. Passing through such an ordeal would have changed His face, which would need to be restructured for the Disciples to recognize Him as the same person.

Besides this, when He rose from the dead, His body was flesh and bones, but it had miraculous powers. It was now able to enter a room without the door being opened. I believe that Jesus had a resurrected body like we will have in Heaven. Jesus Christ was not a ghost or a spirit. His resurrected body was not a spirit. It was a real body. So do not think that we will be spirits when we are resurrected. We will be spirits until the great resurrection day, but then our spirits will be clothed in a spiritual body. The bodies of resurrected Christians will be to all intents and purposes the same bodies which are put into the grave. Notice that Jesus was still flesh and bone! But our Saviour's flesh was now flesh that could not suffer - flesh that had extraordinary powers - flesh, however, that could still eat. And our resurrected bodies will be like His. The Bible says, "We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him" (I John 3:2).

But now think! If Christ had to undergo the changes connected with His bloody sweat, and then His beating and crucifixion, and then the transforming of His body into a resurrected one, can't you see that His appearance would be changed? The Disciples would hardly have been able to recognize Him if there had not been those wounds in His hands, and feet, and side. The Disciples looked at His face, but even then they doubted. There was now a majesty about Him that most of them had not seen. Peter, James and John had seen Him transfigured, when His clothing became white. But the rest of the Disciples had only seen Him as a man of sorrows. They had not seen Him as the glorious Lord, and, therefore, they would doubt whether He was the same person. But those nail marks, the wound in His side, these were the marks they could not doubt, which their unbelief itself could not doubt. And they were convinced when they saw Him after He arose, and they confessed that He was the Lord. Even faithless Thomas said, "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28).

"And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet" (Luke 24:40).

II. Let us now answer the second question, Why should Christ have these wounds in Heaven, and what use are they there?

Let me give you some thoughts on this. I believe that the wounds of Christ in Heaven will be a theme of eternal wonder to the angels. An old writer speaks of the angels as saying, "Oh, Lord of glory, what of these wounds in thy hands?" The angels had seen Him leave Heaven, and they had gone with Him as far as they could go, singing, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace" (Luke 2:14) on the first Christmas. Some of the angels watched over Him throughout His earthly life. We are told He was "seen of angels" (I Timothy 3:16). But when Christ returned to Heaven, I believe that they crowded around Him and bowed before Him in adoration, and then asked Him, "What are those wounds in your hands?" For certain, they saw for themselves, in Heaven, the Man who suffered. And the angels could see the wounds that were produced in His body by His sufferings. And I do not doubt that every time the angels look at His hands and the wound in His side, they are filled with wonder and praise.

Again, Christ has these scars in His body in Heaven as His ornaments, or decorations. The wounds of Christ are His jewels. He is never so glorious as when we can say of Him, "My beloved is white and ruddy" (Song of Solomon 5:10). He is white with innocence, and ruddy with His own Blood. He is beautiful when we see Him as the lily and the rose. As the lily, we see His matchless purity. As the rose, we see Him red with His own gore, covered with His own Blood. We can talk of the beauty of Christ when He raised the dead and made the sea calm, but oh! there was never such matchless beauty as when He did hang upon the Cross! There on the Cross I see all His beauties, all His attributes, all His love, all His character expressed in words so great that my poor lisping stammering tongue can read those words and speak them, as I see them written in crimson upon the bloody Cross.

My friend, these wounds are His royal jewels, His wonderful ornaments. He does not care for the splendor and pomp of kings. The thorns are His crown - a crown such as no king ever wore. He never seems more lovely than when we see Him beaten for our sakes, bearing our sins, and carrying our sorrows. Jesus Christ finds such beauty in His wounds that He will not give them up. He will keep these wounds as His royal court dress for all eternity.

These wounds are also His medals. Old soldiers used to pin their medals on their suit coats on Armistice Day and on the Fourth of July. The wounds of Christ are His medals, and He wears them proudly, as old soldiers used to do. Why, every soldier will tell you the wounds he received in battle were not considered a disgrace or disfigurement. Those wounds are the soldier's honor. I remember an old soldier from World War I who would often show us boys the scars where shrapnel went into his arms and legs. He was proud of those scars that he received while fighting for America. Old soldiers will tell you that the wounds they received while fighting in the valiant cause of America are honorable wounds. Now Jesus Christ has such scars of honor in His body and glory in His eyes when He shows them to us. Jesus has no other medals than those wounds. In His battle with Satan and with sin, He has saved thousands of lives, no, millions. What are the medals He is given for His courage? They are the wounds in His hands and in His side.

Another thought comes to my mind: when Jesus wears His wounds it gives Him a powerful argument with God the Father. When Jesus prays for His people, He lifts up His pierced hands to God. He need not say another word. These are the wounds that He shows to God on our behalf. When Jesus asks God to forgive your sins, He doesn't have to do anything but hold up His hands, with the marks of those nails in them. The Father sees those wounds and pardons the sinner for whom Christ prays. His wounds themselves are used as powerful arguments when He prays to God for your salvation.

There is another terrible reason why Christ still wears His wounds in Heaven. It is this. Christ is coming to judge the world. Every time that Christ lifts up His hands to God, the people who hate Him, or despise Him, are accused. And when Christ comes again to judge the world, He will be seated on a white throne. And when He holds up His pierced hands they will be a terror to the Universe. "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced" (Zechariah 12:10). And they will mourn with sorrow.

When the armies of the Antichrist gather at Armageddon, Christ will judge the nations. He has no need to call His accusers forth. His own wounds are His witnesses. He has no need to convict the unbelievers of their sin then. The wound in His side shows what they did to Him. You murderers, you did this! You sons and daughters of an evil generation, you pierced the Saviour. You nailed Him to the Cross by your sin. Look at these holes in my hands and this stab-wound in my side. These are the witnesses that condemn you! There is a terrible side, then, to this. The crucified Christ with His wounds still open will be a terrifying sight for the unbelieving nations. "Well," some of you may say, "What does that mean to us? We did not crucify the Saviour." You are wrong. He died for you. And His Blood will be on you. If you die unconverted the judgment for His crucifixion will be on you. You agree with those who actually killed Him every day by your unbelief. As long as you reject Jesus, you are as guilty of His death as those who drove the nails through His hands and feet. You crucify Him afresh, and put Him to an open shame. When you laugh at real Christians, and refuse to listen when they invite you to our church to hear the gospel, when you say, "No, I don't need to be in church, I don't need to be converted," you drive those nails into His hands, and you thrust the sword into His heart afresh. And His wounds will speak against you when you die. You will enter eternity as wounders of Christ and His eternal enemies. You will remember the wounds of Christ that could have saved you, when you spend eternity in the flames of Hell.

I think I have given several good reasons for Christ keeping His wounds in Heaven. But there is one more which I will give. Christ wears those marks in His hands and side so that you who are converted may never forget that He died for you. When we have been in Heaven many thousands of years we will still have the death of Christ in our memories because we will still see His wounds. In Heaven, we will sing:

"Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation"
   (Revelation 5:9).

They begin the song, "Thou wast slain." Jesus looks upon them and shows the wounds in His hands. They cannot forget that He died, and that part of the song which says "Thou wast slain" will have great sweetness, because there Christ sits with the wounds in His hands, feet, and side clearly shown.

Here on earth we need the bread and the cup at Communion to remind us of the Saviour's suffering. But in Heaven we will have the very sight of His wounds to remind us of His suffering.

I would give everything I have to see Christ. Those wounds are still there and visible, and we will be delighted to see Him in Heaven, with His wounds still fresh upon His body. Just a few more months; just a few more years, and we shall see Him as He is!

"And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet" (Luke 24:40).

III. This brings us to the third question. Why does Christ show us His hands and feet?

Why does Christ show us His hands and feet? He teaches us His sympathy with us in His suffering. "There," He says, "see these hands! I am not a high priest that cannot be touched by your feelings and infirmities. I have suffered, too. I was tempted in all ways like as you are. Look here! There are the marks. They are evidence of my sympathy for you." Think of this in your times of sorrow. When you are sweating, think of His bloody sweat. When you are bruised, think of the whip that tore His flesh. And when you are dying, think of His death. And when God hides His face from you and seems far away, think of Christ's words, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). This is why He wears His wounds in His hands and feet, so that He can show you how much He sympathizes with you.

Another thing. Christ wears His wounds to show that suffering is an honorable thing. I know that "prosperity theology," on religious TV programs, teaches that Christians should always prosper. But this is not historical or Biblical Christianity. The Bible teaches us that it is glorious to be crushed, glorious to suffer. This is hard to learn. But there we see Jesus doing it. He makes His wounds His glory. We learn from Him that it is a glorious and honorable thing to suffer.

I envy those who have been martyrs for Christ. I do not envy them their pain, but I do envy them when I see them dressed in the blood-red robe of martyrdom. The martyrs will stand in first place before God's throne. The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions. Let us not therefore shun being honored.

I cannot send you away this Easter morning without giving one more point. Sinner, are you troubled by your sin? Here is a sweet thought for you. Some people are afraid to come to Christ because they think they have so many sins that they can't come to Him. They think Christ is angry with them. But don't you see His wounded hands reaching out to you this morning? He is in Heaven, and He says, "Come unto me…and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Are you afraid to come to Him? Then look at His hands and His feet. Doesn't the sight of those wounds take away your fear of Him?

His side is open. Even your poor prayers will reach His heart through the open wound in His side. If you will think about Christ's wounds seriously you will probably soon find peace with God through the Blood of Jesus. Thy wounds, Jesus, thy wounds! These are my refuge in my trouble. These are my refuge from sin and Hell. Oh sinner, believe in His wounds. They cannot fail. Christ's wounds pour forth Blood to wash your sins away. Come to Jesus. Believe on Him. He will save you from the penalty of sin.

The wounds of Christ are open, Sinner, they were made for thee;
The wounds of Christ are open, There for refuge flee.
     ("The Wounds of Christ" by Evangeline Booth, 1865-1950).

"And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet" (Luke 24:40).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."



Scripture Read Before the Sermon: Luke 24:36-45.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"The Strife Is O'er" (Anonymous, translated by Francis Pott, 1832-1900)/
"The Wounds of Christ" (by Evangeline Booth, 1865-1950).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE WOUNDS OF CHRIST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet" (Luke 24:40).

(John 20:27)

I.   What use was there in showing those wounds to the Disciples?
Luke 24:39; Luke 22:44; I John 3:2; John 20:28.

II.  Why should Christ have these wounds in Heaven, and
what use are they there? Luke 2:14; I Timothy 3:16;
Song of Solomon 5:10; Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 5:9.

III. Why does Christ show us His hands and feet?
Matthew 27:46; Matthew 11:28.