disability and theology #8

For the previous posts on disability and theology click HERE.
For full references, download the reference list HERE.

The last post touched briefly on the fact that Jesus resurrected body bears his wounds. I don’t know about you, but this raises significant questions for me:

  • How will the Christian with a disability be restored on the last day?
  • What should we hope for in light of the gospel promises of healing?

In post #4, I reflected on the way Jesus healing miracles often serve to restore people to relationship with God and to each other, through both forgiveness of sins (e.g. Matthew 9) and by making the unclean clean (e.g. Luke 5:12-16). And both forgiveness and cleanness are provided to people in the death and resurrection of Jesus: we are covered by Him, our very minds and hearts having been washed with His blood. Our frail bodies are the site in which God chooses to dwell. Jesus has done everything necessary to heal us from sin and death, restoring us to God and to each other.

So if physical healing was either a sign that forgiveness had been achieved or a means to full participation in community — both of which we now have in Jesus — does that mean physical healing is no longer really relevant?

I’m not sure that it does. There is a wealth of Scriptural promise that when God’s kingdom is revealed ‘then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame man shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy’ (Isaiah 35:5-6). Jesus claims these prophecies are fulfilled in his earthly ministry (Luke 7:18-23). It may be possible to argue that this healing was simply a sign that Jesus was bringing in the Kingdom. However, it would not be unreasonable to expect that these were the first fruits of a much more abundant restoration that will accompany the resurrection.

I think there is still a whole lot of ambiguity about what to expect of our physical bodies at the resurrection. But I also think we can have complete confidence that every obstacle that prevents us from relating freely with God and with one another will be overcome. Emphatically proclaiming either the complete reversal of disability or the complete correspondence between our earthly and resurrected bodies are probably equally unhelpful options.

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