In the days following the resurrection of our Lord, many people gave witness to the fact that He had risen from the dead. This truth is one of the most documented facts in history apart from its numerous references in Scripture. For our purposes, the Biblical record will be cited since there is no higher authority than the infallible Word of God. It is only the prophetic Word that could reveal that which was unknown at the time and what would occur some one thousand years later.
The psalmist wrote… “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing” (Ps 22:16-18 NIV). What an accurate description by the psalmist of the scene on Calvary as the Messiah of Israel, rejected by the nation … “humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8 NIV).
Israel’s prophet, Isaiah used similar language in depicting the crucifixion … “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isa 53:5 NIV). The prophet Zechariah, looking down the corridors of time to a future period yet to occur, foretold the eventual acceptance of Messiah by the nation as a result of great tribulation and despair. He describes this second return of Christ to rescue His people and establish His earthly kingdom … “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (Zech 12:10 NIV).
Note that there is repeated mention in these prophetic statements to the “piercing” of Messiah. From the human perspective, this act upon the humanity of Christ might seem rather normal and routine, but never discount that God was at work in all that was transpiring to fulfill His inerrant Word in every detail. “But when they [Roman soldiers] came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced” (John 19:33-37 NIV).
Those identifying marks on the resurrection body would convince and motivate a discouraged and dejected disciple named Thomas to carry the gospel message into India. The aged Apostle John, exiled and imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos for His faith, would be given the privilege of writing the final revelation of Jesus Christ in the Canon of Scripture. “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen” (Rev 1:7 NIV). The return of Jesus Christ in glorified body still has those distinguishing marks which identify His Person to the world – the nail pierced hands and side. The thought of those marks inspired the lyricist, Matthew Bridges, to set the following words to the tune DIADEMATA .
Crown Him with Many Crowns
Crown Him the Lord of Love; Behold His hands and side,
Those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified:
All hail, redeemer, hail! For Thou has died for me:
Thy praise and glory shall not fail Thro’out eternity,