Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.”
– John 20:27
The brief descriptions of the resurrected Jesus are all we have to base our imagery and understanding of our resurrected bodies on. And the picture that appears is somewhat confusing.
Jesus, after His resurrection, could apparently teleport and walk through locked doors – but still was able to eat real food and still even bore on his body the marks of His suffering and death. His body was in some ways changed and in other ways still the same. Was it, then a “perfect” body?
What would a perfect body even be? Would it be defined by some precise weight, or height, or appearance? By some level of functionality or some lack of disability? Would the person born without legs have legs in the resurrection, or the deaf be given hearing? What does that imply for the identity that individuals build for themselves in response to their embodied existence – and what does it imply for the relative worth, here and now, of those whose bodies are farther from that perfect ideal?
As the owner of a decidedly imperfect body, I’ve often thought about what the bodily resurrection would entail for me personally. Would it mean my myopic eyesight would be healed? Or that my thyroid would function correctly – or that things like thyroid hormones would be irrelevant? Would it mean freedom from debilitating depression and anxiety, or are those things a part of my soul as much as my body, a part of my being that can be redeemed and made meaningful but not cut out?
As I mature in my understanding of myself, and as I see how my body and mind affect both each other and my faith, I am starting to think that maybe our “deficiencies”, our brokennesses and scars, will remain with us in the resurrection – at least the ones with meaning and significance to our story and the story of God in the world. Just as Jesus kept the scars of His crucifixion, so maybe the mother will retain her softened abdomen and the scars of childbirth. Maybe I will always have the scars on my arms from my skin excoriation disorder, no longer marks of shame and anxiety, but testimonies to the love and redeeming, healing power of the God who brings beauty out of ashes.
Maybe the new creation, the resurrected body, isn’t perfect any more than our current bodies – and maybe perfection should never have been our goal.