The Nail-Scarred Hand

Title: The Nail-Scarred Hand

Bible Book: John 20 : 24-28

Author: Adrian Rogers

Subject: Resurrection; Easter; Nail-Scarred Hand



Would you take your Bibles, this morning, and open to John—the twentieth chapter. In a moment we will commence reading in verse 2—John chapter 20. It’s good to hear the pages flutter. Get the Bible there—open in your lap. If you didn’t bring a copy of the Scripture with you, then most likely there’s one in the pew right before you. Find John chapter 20. Now, I want to ask you a question: What is the only man thing in Heaven? What is the only manmade thing in Heaven? I believe the only manmade things in Heaven are the scars in the hands of Jesus, the wounds in his feet—those scars yet visible above in beauty glorified.

Now, I want to talk to you today about the scars of Jesus. When you go somewhere on a vacation, so many times you bring back a souvenir. Jesus visited this planet, and he brought back as a souvenir—not something cheap and not something temporary— but something, if I understand the Bible, that will endure for all eternity and was bought at a fearful price. As a matter of fact, the prophet Zachariah pictures the Lord Jesus as He’s coming again, and people behold him, and they say, “What are those wounds in your hand?” And, he said, “Those are the wounds that I received when I was wounded in the house of my friends.”

He still bears those emblems of his suffering, and over yonder, in the book of Revelation, the Apostle John saw the Lamb upon the throne, but he saw the Lamb as though he had been slain. I take it the wounds are still there—a lamb as though he had been slain. “The Nail-Scarred Hand” is the title of my message. Back in the early twenties, one of the Southern Baptist great songwriters, B. B. McKinney, was in a revival meeting in Allen, Texas, and the evangelist gave the invitation, and he said to the people, “Want you give your heart to Jesus? Will you not place your hand in the nail-scarred hand?” That phrase stuck in the mind of B.B. McKinney, Brother Jim, and that night in the middle of a thunderstorm, he wrote the song that we sing: “Place Your Hand in the Nail-Scarred Hand.”

I want us to think, today, about the nail-scarred hand. I want us to think, today, of the nail-scarred hand, and I begin to read in verse 24: “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he 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. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God” (John 20:24–28).

One of the great attestations to the deity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is this: Had Jesus not been Lord and God, He should have rebuked Thomas for unmitigated idolatry, but He is Thomas’ Lord; He is Thomas’ God; and He is my Lord and my God. One of the things that helps confirm that to our hearts are those wounds in the hands of Jesus, those nail-scarred hands. There are three things the nail-scarred hands speak to me about.

I. Jesus Suffered

First of all, they tell me, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that Jesus suffered. Jesus suffered. Now, suffering and pain are problems, and very frankly folks, they’re problems that are hard for Christians to answer. So many times, Christians have pain that seems almost unbearable, or they see a loved one—a child—suffer, and they say, “God, please do something about it. Oh God, remove the pain,” and He doesn’t do it. And, as a matter of fact, it seems to go the other way, and doubt comes. We begin to ask ourselves, “Why doesn’t God do something?” And, our minds begin to think, Maybe God doesn’t have the power to do anything about it. And, we say, “Oh no, if He’s God, then He’s got to be all-powerful.” Then our mind says, “Well, maybe He has the power, but He just doesn’t care—He doesn’t love us enough.” Then, we say, “Well, what kind of a God would that be—a God who doesn’t love us?” And then, we say, “Well, maybe he doesn’t love, and He doesn’t have the power. Or maybe there’s no God at all,” and doubt begins to grow in our hearts and in our minds, as we try to explain the problem.

The problem of pain in a human being is a problem to you. Let me give you another problem: not why do humans suffer, but why did God suffer, and why does God suffer? Those wounds, yet visible above in beauty glorified—those prints in his hands—tell us that God suffered, and God continues to suffer. Isaiah 42, verse 14—God speaks of Himself, and He says: “now will I cry like a travailing woman” (Isaiah 42:14). Now, we know that God sings, but have you ever thought of God crying? “I cry like a travailing woman”—like a woman giving birth to a baby—a woman with labor pains. God says, in Isaiah, chapter 63, and verse 9, (speaking of His people): “In all their affliction he was afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9). When God’s people were afflicted, God Himself was afflicted. God speaks, in Jeremiah, chapter 31, and verse 20, of that tribe of Ephraim; He says: “Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he a pleasant child? For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him” (Jeremiah 31:20). What does that mean? That’s Old English. It speaks at the pit of the stomach. Any one of you who has a child that has done wrong and gone wrong—and everybody who has raised a child of maturity has, at one time or another, has been sick in the pit of his stomach—he’s hurt, he’s hurt. And, God says, “I hurt.”

Now, when we have pain, we normally don’t choose it. And sometimes, we can do absolutely nothing about it. But, God chose pain, and if God wanted to, then He could do something about His pain, because He is God, and He can do anything He well pleases. And yet, God has chosen to suffer. It’s obvious, if you think about it, that God would suffer, because of the very thing that God has made of Himself—or God agrees to be—within His own eternal wisdom. God is a father. You can’t be a father or a mother without suffering. The story of the prodigal son tells us that. The Bible tells us that we can grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Grieve is a love word. Parents grieve over their children, and the Holy Spirit grieves over us. Your automobile can vex you, but your children grieve you, because grieve is a love word. And so, we know of God as a father; He suffers because of His children when they do wrong. We know that Jesus is the head, and we are members of His Body. Can the members of the Body suffer and the head not know it? As a matter of fact, when any member of your body suffers, it sends a message to the head immediately. That pain is picked up in the brain, and were the old brain to register the pain, your body would feel no pain. Jesus is the head. When His church suffers, He suffers.

When the Apostle Paul was on the road to Damascus, his name was then Saul. He was persecuting the Church, and Jesus Christ met him and said to him: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4; Acts 22:7). The point is obvious: Saul was persecuting the Church, but Jesus said, “You’re persecuting me.”

I want to ask you another question: Can a bridegroom have a bride that is unfaithful to him, flirtatious and indifferent, and not suffer? Jesus is the bridegroom, and the Church is the bride. Is it not obvious that if we’re unfaithful and untrue to Him, indifferent to Him, flirtatious with this world, that His heart is broken? I think I can say, dear friend, that those wounds in the hands of Jesus tell us one thing—that God…God has suffered, and God does suffer.

II. Jesus Knows, Jesus Cares, and Jesus Understands

Second thing, second thing: Not only do those wounds tell us that God has suffered and that God does suffer, but those wounds also tell us that because He has suffered, He knows, He cares, and He understands. When you hurt, dear friend, He hurts. The Bible tells us we don’t have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He was, in all points, tempted as we are. Jesus, in a human body, suffered, and He knows exactly what you feel. Those souvenirs that He’s taken back to glory tell us, “I have been there.” Jesus walked the dusty roads of Galilee. Jesus wept at the graveside of Lazarus. The Bible says that when He saw the crowds He was moved with compassion. The word compassion is a composite word of two Latin words: com, meaning “with," and patti, meaning "to suffer; to feel.” He knows, and He understands. Those scars tell us that when we suffer and when we hurt, He hears, and He understands our pain. Those scars are a lasting image of His humanity, and they tell us that the pain of man has become the pain of God. They speak to us of the greatness of His love. Whether you understand all about pain or not, those scars tell us, dear friend, that in your affliction, He loves you.

The Chinese, when they paint the word for love, they have a very high form of love that they paint this way: They paint an emblem for love and superimpose on it an emblem for pain. I guess the best way that you could translate that would be pain-love. That’s the highest kind of love that they know—pain-love. You see, God’s love allows humanity to suffer, and then God’s love suffers with humanity.

Now, why does God allow humanity to suffer? Why does God allow anybody to have wounds that turn to scars? Well, if you go way back to the book of Genesis, right in the beginning in the dawn of civilization after Adam and Eve had fallen into sin, God came to the Garden, and God forgave the sin, and God made it right. But then, God said to Adam and Eve, (concerning the ground): “cursed is the ground for thy sake… Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee” (Genesis 3:17–18). Now, notice: God did not say that the ground was cursed for their judgment. God said that the ground was cursed for their sake, because He loved them.

Ladies and gentleman, the cruelest thing that God could do for falling humanity would be to allow them to continue to live in a painless world. They’d never know anything was wrong. You see, you need to be grateful for the pain. Pain is a gift to tell you that something is wrong. Let me give you a quote: “If I have the right and the power to eliminate pain, I would not use that right nor exercise that power.” Who said that? Well, God didn’t say that, but He could have said that, and He would have said that, and

I’ll tell you why: because God does have the power, and God does have the right, and

God has not done it, and God is infinite love. God has the power to remove pain, and God has the right to do it, but He’s not done it. Why? I’ll tell you that Dr. Paul Brand, an imminent hand surgeon and man who worked for over twenty years with lepers in a lepertorium, said, “I would not eliminate pain, because,” he said, “pain is too valuable.” This is what he said about pain: He said, “Pain’s value is too great. Rather than eliminating pain, I would lend all my energies to doing all I can to help when that pain turns to suffering”—when that pain turns to suffering. Really, this pain is proof of God’s love.

A. Pain Has a Protecting Purpose

You see, pain has a protecting purpose, first of all. Dr. Brand told us that lepers lose the ability to feel, they lose the ability to sense things, and so, therefore, there are so many things that happen to damage them, because they do not have their protecting power and propensities of pain.

When we run or jog… I bought some jogging shoes yesterday, and I read a little article about getting a good fit. And, this thing said that first of all, when you start, you put, primarily, the weight on them, and after you run awhile, it sort of moves out to the lateral side of the foot. And then, he goes on to say that if you’ve been on a long hike, after awhile, when you start out heel to toe, then before long you’re going to be walking flatfooted like this, why? Because you’re body is constantly adjusting. When this muscle gets tired or worn, it moves to this one and then that one. You don’t have to think about it—that’s automatic, because there are censors in your feet that tell you that, but a leper never feels that, and he’ll just wear his feet off—just wear them out. He can’t feel that. He’ll be smoking a cigarette, and it will burn right on down and burn him, and he will never feel it, because he does not have the gift of pain.

You turn your ankle—have you ever turned your ankle and gone down, just like that? I was with Joyce one time, we were walking down a mountainside, and all of the sudden, Joyce was flat on the ground. I mean, she was flat. I couldn’t imagine what on earth had happened to her. But, she stepped on a little pebble, and she turned her ankle. Later on, I read about that, and I discovered what had happened. There is a defense mechanism in your body when your body senses that strain on the ankle; immediately then—just like that, faster than any computer can work—a message is sent to the brain, and back again, and tells the thigh, and tells the calf, “Take the weight off,” and you go down. You look silly, but it’s better than what could happen, isn’t it? It’s better than putting a break or a severe strain there and stretching the ligament. No wonder the Psalmist said that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and God allows pain there for a protecting purpose (Psalm 139:14).

B. Pain Has a Unifying Purpose

Not only is there the protecting purpose of pain, friend, there’s the unifying purpose of pain. Pain has a way of unifying the Body. You see, if members of your body could not feel pain, then you would not know they were members of your body. I was reading where wolves, sometimes, in the frozen North, running across the tundra will get frostbite, and one will go numb. Do you know what they do? They turn it off; they don’t treat it as a part of their own body, because they feel pain. They think of it as something different than their own body. You see, Dr. Paul Brand went on to say, “I can tell the health of a body, in many ways, by its ability to sense pain.”

That’s what the Apostle Paul was talking about in the New Testament when he was talking about the Church, which is his body, and he said, in 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, and verse 26, whether one member suffered, all the members suffer with him—that is, in a human body, when one part of you hurts, all of you hurts. You just can’t say, when you hit your thumb, “My thumb hurts.” You say, “I hurt.” I mean, you hurt all over. You see, that’s one of the ways to know that the body is healthy. When one member suffers, every member suffers with him.

I’ve used this silly illustration before, but have you ever hit your thumb with a hammer? I think of all the pain known to man, and that’s right up in the top ten, don’t you think? To hit your thumb with a hammer. And, I don’t know you very well, but I think I know what happened when you hit your thumb with a hammer. I think the very first thing you did was grab it like that. I think the second thing you did was pop it in your mouth and suck on it, and I think the third thing you did was do a little dance like this, isn’t that right? Sure. Now, you know why you did that? No, you don’t know why, and I don’t know why either. I mean, what do your knees have to do with your thumb? I don’t know, but that dance sure makes it feel better. And, when you do that little dance, it’s just a way of saying that when one member suffers every member suffers with Him.

Pain has a unifying force, and by the way, if the ability to feel pain is a mark of health, then we ought to think about that as a Church—His Body. What about the elderly? What about the poor? What about those who are shut in? What about the battered child? What about that person with a broken home? Do we hurt when they hurt? What about that brother who has been broken and fallen in sin? When one member suffers every member suffers with Him. I’m telling you, dear friend, there’s a protecting purpose in pain. I’m telling you there’s a unifying purpose in pain.

C. Pain Has a Correcting Purpose

There’s another purpose in pain. Dear friend, there’s a correcting purpose in pain. Pain corrects. You put your hand on a hot stove—there’s a message that says, “It’s hot down here.” It goes to your head, and your head says, “Move your hand,” and you move it like that. You don’t have to think about it—it goes just like that, but that corrects it. You see, dear friend, why does God allow us to live in a world that is cursed with pain? Because what we call a curse is a blessing. The worst thing God could do—I say it again, the worst thing God could do—to sinful and fallen humanity would be for them to live in a world un-cursed by pain. Because, it is the pain that tells us something is wrong that needs to be corrected, and you can put it down big, and plain, and straight: Pain will never be removed until the last vestige of sin is eradicated, and then, pain will be removed, because pain is God’s message to fallen, broken humanity that something is desperately wrong.

But, you say, “But why do the little children suffer?” That’s just how wrong it is, dear friend. Sin is so indiscreet. Suffering is so indiscriminate. That’s the unfair thing about sin, but God has warned us that something is tragically wrong with His universe. But, what does it say to us when we see those wounds in the hands of Jesus? Those nail-pierced hands? They tell us that He has suffered. But, not only do they tell us that He has suffered, friend, they also tell us that He has willingly, voluntarily identified Himself with our humanity, that He might take that load, that He might bear that load, and that He might share that load with us.

III. Jesus Has Conquered

The third thing those wounds tell us is this: Not only has He suffered, and therefore, not only does He understand how we feel, not only can He be touched with the feeling of our infirmity, but they also tell us that He has overcome—that He has conquered. I remind you that those were scars after the Resurrection; those were not raw and bleeding wounds—those were wounds that had been healed. The Bible says, in Isaiah, chapter 53, and verse 5, (speaking of Jesus): “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Dear friend, there’s victory in those wounds. He’s saying, “It is done. It is paid for, and this is but a souvenir—this is but an eternal reminder that your sin debt has been paid at Calvary.” You see, such love. Again, I remind you, friend, that He didn’t have to suffer this way, but He chose to.

I think you can understand. Those of you who have children: Let’s suppose that you have a child who is away in school, and that child, right now, is in deep trouble. Now, you’re happy right now; you’re looking forward to going to lunch with some friends. But now, let’s suppose that your child is on drugs, living in filth, and you don’t know it. Let’s suppose that your child is lying, right now, in the emergency room of some hospital with his body broken and twisted. You’re sitting here in church relaxing. Now, if you could choose, would you choose not to know and remain happy, or would you choose to know and begin to suffer? You’d say, “I want to know.” You mean you would want—voluntarily want—to know; you would want to begin to suffer? Sure, you would. You would say, “If my child is hurting, then I want to know so I can hurt, too. If my child is in trouble, then I need to know. I want to come there. I want to invade that suffering. I want to do what I can do.”

I’m so glad God describes Himself as a father, aren’t you? And, I’m so glad that the Bible says that when my father and my mother cast me off, then is when the Lord takes me up. He has love, dear friend. There are some parents who say, “I don’t care what he does. I’m finished with him.” I can’t imagine a parent like that. I don’t want to make an idle boast, but I want to tell you, dear friend, that I don’t believe there is anything any of my children could ever do, or ever be, that would cause me to forsake one of my children. I couldn’t do it; it’d be impossible, so far as I know from the way that God has built me. But, dear friend, the love that I have for my children is but a miniscule example of the great love of God, who, when we are afflicted, took our affliction. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

One young man had wronged his father so many times, and the father had been so patient and so loving. Finally, a friend came to him and said, “If that were my son, I’ll tell you what I would do,” and proceeded to say what he would do. This father with a broken heart said, “I can understand that.” And, he said, “If he were your son, that’s what I would do.” But, he said, “He’s not your son; he’s my son, and there’s a difference.”

Dear friend, I want to tell you that the stories of Jesus tell us that God so loved us that He was wounded for our transgressions, and He was bruised for our iniquity. That’s what the cross is all about. People don’t understand that. Phil Donahue doesn’t understand it. Phil Donahue was discussing his disenchantment with Christianity. This is what be said (and I quote): “How could an all-knowing, all-loving God allow His Son to be murdered on a cross in order to redeem my sin? If God the father is so all-loving, why didn’t He come down and go to Calvary?” Friend, that is exactly what He did. He did come down and go to Calvary.

Second Corinthians, chapter 5, and verse 19: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Do you know how God the Father suffered when God the Son suffered? When our first child was born, my pastor said, “Congratulations Adrian,” then he said, “Adrian, you’re going to learn something.” He said, “You’re going to learn something of the love of God,” and he said something that I have found to be very true. He said, “Before you have children of your own, you think of the great love that Jesus had when He died for us. But, after you have children of your own, you think of the great love that the Father had when He sent His Son, when He sent His Son.” Oh, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto His own.

My dear friend, those wounds yet visible above in beauty glorified, those nail-pierced hands that He takes as an emblem of His humanity and a souvenir from His visit to planet earth—they tell us, number one, that God has suffered. They tell us, number two, that because God has suffered, He understands. And, we can cast all of our care upon Him, for He cares for us. And, they tell us, number three, that He has conquered; He has overcome. He is a Lamb sitting upon the throne, a Lamb as though He had been slain, and yet, He has overcome. This Resurrection appearance was on the other side of bloody Golgotha, when Jesus asked Thomas to thrust his finger into the print in His hand.


Let me just conclude this message by saying this to you, this morning: Dear friend, if you follow Jesus—are you listening?—if you follow Jesus, then you, too, are going to have some scars. That’s all right, that’s all right. Let me give you some Scriptures. Colossians, chapter 1, and verse 24: “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24). Paul said, “I suffer.” Paul said, in Philippians, chapter 3, and verse 10: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). If you serve Jesus very much, then you’re going to have some scars. Paul had scars. Do you know what Paul said? Paul said, in the book of Galatians: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus”

(Galatians 6:17). He literally meant the brand marks. Now, this was literal, because he’d been beaten, whipped, and stoned. He had scars all over his body, but Paul used an interesting word. He said I bear in my body the stigmata of Christ. Now, what he meant by that was the same word that we get our word—it’s the word we get our word stigma from. I bear the shame—these marks, the stigma of Christ. I want to bring a message on that pretty soon: “The Marks of Christ.”

Let me tell you what Paul did with those marks. He used them to preach with, and to authenticate the gospel. Are you listening to me? If you suffer and those wounds heal, that may be your greatest testimony for Jesus Christ. The things that convinced Thomas were the scars. And, your scars may be the message that will convince some unbeliever today that you cared enough, and yet you’ve overcome, and God will use it.

Listen, friend: Bring your wounds to Jesus. Use your scars for Jesus. Bring your wounds for Jesus. Use your scars for Jesus.

One last thing: Would you imagine Jesus, right now, upon His throne? Just close your eyes. Imagine Him on the throne, and see Him in beauty glorified. See those ruby red scars in His hand. Are you suffering today? In the pain, anguish, doubt, and confusion, He’s reaching out that hand to you. He’s saying, “My child, I know how you feel. Cast your care upon Me. I care for you. I’m touched with the feeling of your infirmity, and I want to tell you, if you’re suffering here today, that you can place your hand, right now—do it right now—in the nail-scarred hand. Just do it.”

There’s somebody here today, who is lost—you’re not certain that you’re saved; you don’t know that you’re right with God; and you don’t know that you’re right with God. You need to be saved, and you want to be saved. Then, place your hand in that nail-scarred hand. Do it right now. Say, “Lord Jesus, come into my heart and save me. Forgive my sin, and make me your child,” and He will. And, don’t you take some sedative to block out the pain. It’s not a sedative you need; it’s the Savior that you need.

Father, I pray that many today will come to Christ. Holy Spirit of God, bring conviction and help people to be saved. For this we pray in His dear name—the name of Jesus—amen.

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