Jesus and Toothaches

Posted on April 7, 2012


Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten
by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our
iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:4-5

Will Barrett finally figured out how to prove whether or not God is real.

He decided to put God in a pickle. He sat in a cave, planning to either meet God (proving his existence) or to die (proving that there is no God). He brought no food, no drink, and before he left, he sent letters to his closest friends- telling them that if he is missing and dead, God’s non-existence is official.

On a pretty epic spiritual mission, Will Barrett gets a toothache. His tooth is all he can think about, the pain is the only thing in the entire world. While staunchly preparing to die of starvation in a cave, his tooth starts hurting so badly that he has to leave immediately. His mission fails.

Of course, Will Barrett is just a character in one of Walker Percy’s novels. I think Percy uses this story to try to jarringly remind us that we aren’t just souls. We are also bodies. Our beliefs, our loves, our existential crises, are all interrupted by extremely crass things on a daily basis. We get indigestion, our backs hurt, we break bones. Many of our lowest times emotionally are a direct result of our physical state.

Jesus has a body, too. He was born, went through puberty, drank good wine, ate good food, breathed in sea air, and sometimes stubbed his toe. He went outside and prayed while looking up at the stars he created. He needed his feet washed after a long dirty walk. He fed people who came to hear him speak spiritual truths.

When Jesus rose again, he didn’t just come alive again and appear to his male and female followers in a cloud– he got a resurrection body. By eternally partaking of our embodiment, Jesus made bodies a big deal. Our bodies have become temples.

It means that when Jesus rose again, he redeemed our bodies. He conquered toothaches. He conquered chemical imbalances. He cares about nausea. He came to defeat cancer. He cries when his friends die, and then brings them to life.

Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, our whole selves are healed.  Our insides are transformed– before him, they are like the inside of a crypt, after him,  our souls are white as snow.  And not just our souls.  Our bodies, too, are in the process of being sanctified at the hands of Jesus.

Thank you, Jesus, that the physical struggles in my life are sacred. Thank you, Jesus, that my body is important to you. Thank you that you have a body too.

Praise the LORD, my soul;
   all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
   and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
   and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 6 The LORD works righteousness
   and justice for all the oppressed.

Psalm 103:2-5


For more posts on my thoughts about Jesus, please see:

1. If He is Not Risen, I am a Fool Indeed

2. Swallowing Poison and Waiting for God to Die

3. Rooted and Grounded

In the comment section, tell me: why does it matter to you that Jesus has a body?

Posted in: Seriously