Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call.
Here’s this week’s question: “Dear T.A. and Dave, After watching the recent Passion movie, I was reminded of a question that I had for awhile, but have not come to a conclusion. In tradition, it is believed that Christ had merely the scars on His hands, feet, and side. But what of all the other scars and beatings He received from the crucifixion? Would they not also be present after this resurrection? I have heard one conference speaker present the idea that perhaps Christ had no scars at all. In John’s Gospel, it does not explicitly say what Thomas saw when Christ told him to look at His hands and side. Perhaps he saw nothing. Can you offer an explanation of this seeming contradiction?”
Tom: Well, Dave, this isn’t just about the movie. I think it’s an issue with regard to the Scriptures. What do you think?
Dave: Well, it’s quite clear that He did have a hole in His side. He said to Thomas, “Put your hand into my side.” He did have holes in his hands where the nails went. “Put your finger into the nail holes,” okay? Now whether there were still scourge marks on his back—that I don’t know, but perhaps. I wouldn’t see why not. I don’t know.
Now in Revelation 5, He appears as a lamb, newly slain. Now I don’t understand that, because I’m sure Jesus doesn’t look like a lamb, but it would indicate that He will bear the marks of the crucifixion throughout eternity as a reminder. I mean, why would they be healed? You see, this was the payment for our sins, His death upon the cross. So, I’ve never really thought about it, Tom.
Tom: But it is a scary thought, if, going back to the movie, if you see the condition that the Christ on the screen was in when he was taken down from the cross. But then, a bit later, when the movie shows a glimpse of the resurrection, it’s like nothing happened. I mean this was a healed Christ figure, certainly.
Dave: Yeah. Tom, the gospels give no indication that Christ was treated in any way other than this was a crucifixion—a scourging and a crucifixion. You can read all four gospels, and there’s no indication that he was brutalized any more than anybody else.
In Isaiah 52, when it says, “His visage was so marred, more than any man, his form than the sons of men,” it doesn’t mean that He was so badly beaten and mutilated. I think we would have to—because I don’t get that from the gospels. There’s nothing to indicate that. He was scourged like others were scourged. That’s on your back. They put a crown of thorns on Him, and so forth, but I think we would have to conclude this is because of the mental, spiritual torment in the Garden. He is anticipating being made sin for us. He’s not afraid of nails driven into His hands and feet. We mentioned that a number of times.
But He’s going to die, you see. Never does the Bible say that Christ was scourged for our sins. It says He died for our sins. What does death mean? Well, death is separation from God. There’s first of all separation morally, spiritually, as Adam and Eve experienced the very day they ate of that tree. God said, “You would die.” So they were spiritually cut off from God. And then their bodies began to die. Physical death, then, is separation of the soul and spirit from the body. But one day, man, the sinners, will be separated from God forever. No restoration possible. And the Bible calls that the second death. And it says, “death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”
Well now, if, as according to Hebrews 2—is it verse 14? I don’t remember—He tasted death for every man, “Inasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood,” it says, “he also himself likewise took part in the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver those who through fear of death for all their lifetime were subject to bondage [Hebrews:2:14-15]. That he by the grace of God should taste death for every man [Hebrews:2:9].”
Now if he tasted death for every man, what is death? Well, it certainly would include the second death. Death and hell are cast into the lake of fire. So Jesus must have endured on the cross the torment of an eternal punishment in the lake of fire for every person who was ever born, who will ever live. Now, Tom, that’s enough to give Him great grief and concern and that would distort His features, but I think that has been restored.
Tom: Dave, in my research on the book, Showtime for the Sheep?, I went through the book that Mel Gibson used, and that was the Dolorous Passion written by a mystic nun, and it’s amazing when you read through this book in terms of detail. She not only has the Roman soldiers beating, whipping, scourging Jesus at every opportunity, crown of thorns, and so on, but she even has the soldiers that were under Herod’s charge beating, scourging, doing whatever they could. It was so in her mind—supposedly she had a vision of this.
Tom: It’s just terrible.
Dave: But it doesn’t say that.
Dave: In fact, Pilate says—when Jesus came back from being before Herod—Pilate says to the people, “I sent him to Herod. There’s nothing worthy of death was done to him by Herod.” So this is contradictory to the Bible. It’s a fanciful idea, but anyway, I think He definitely will bear the marks of Calvary. Now, exactly what that means I don’t know, but He will always be the Lamb. The Bible ends, “The throne of God and of the Lamb forever.”