On the same day Jesus was raised from the dead, he appeared that evening to his apostles who thought they were seeing a ghost (Luke 24.33-37). John’s gospel says, “…he showed them both his hands and his side. The disciples then rejoiced… So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you…” (John 20.20-21). We’re then told that the apostle Thomas wasn’t there and said that unless he could see and touch the scars of Jesus, he wouldn’t believe. A week later, Jesus appeared to the apostles again, this time with Thomas present. “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Reach here with your finger, and see my hands; and reach here your hand and put it into my side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas answered and said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!” (Verses 27-28)

How did the disciples react to Jesus’ scars? They believed, they rejoiced, and they had peace!

When we see the scars of others, we’re often repulsed or uneasy. We feel sorry for them and wonder how they got them, or we wonder about the pain. When we think of our own scars, we feel uneasiness or shame or embarrassment. Our scars can be painful or irritating. We don’t boast about scars; we hide them.

What’s true of physical scars is also true of emotional scars. They’re painful and ugly. They never completely go away. We’re shamed by them. Whether our scars are self-inflicted or inflicted upon us by others, emotional scars hurt.

How do we get rid of scar tissue? The short answer is, we don’t. We never really get rid of scars; instead, we let Jesus transform them into beauty marks.

As we just saw, Jesus’ resurrected body still had scars. Yet, the scars resulted in faith, joy, and peace in his disciples. This suggests to me that it’s unrealistic to expect our physical, emotional, and spiritual scars to just disappear. Rather, in the hands of Jesus, they’re transformed.

The apostle Paul was once burdened with a chronic health problem, what he called his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12.7-10). He prayed three times that God would remove it. “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for [my] power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (verses 9-10). For Paul, his scars became sources of strength in Christ.

Maybe you have physical scars: disease, injury, surgery, accidents, or addictions. Maybe you have emotional scars: abuse or neglect, broken homes, marital woes, debt, job problems, neighbor problems, church problems, insult, or ridicule. Those scars will never go away. But, by the grace and power of Jesus Christ, your scars can become things of beauty and strength.