"Not a hair of your head will perish" (Luke 21:18). These words of Jesus are a great encouragement to men of a certain age.

I can see some of my "word-faith" brothers putting their name to that promise and claiming it eagerly; standing in front of the mirror each morning making a positive confession as they comb their barren scalp and visualize Samson's hair growing back. Yes - we will renew our strength, and when we rise up with wings like eagles it will not be like those of the bald-headed variety. Follicular faith arises.

But as with so many of the promises of scripture, context is everything. Is this really about hope for the receding hair-line as part of a guaranteed package of complete health promised to Christians? If we start reading two verses earlier, it clearly is not.

In verse 16, Jesus warns his disciples of coming persecution, of arrests and imprisonment, and even of martyrdom. If we read v.16 flowing into v.18 it sounds strikingly strange: "...and some of you they will put to death...but not a hair of your head will perish." How does that work? It would seem that to be beheaded, as some were, would involve something of a haircut as one of its less significant elements.

So Jesus cannot be talking about some watertight guarantee of health that includes the smallest details from the tops of our heads down to the bottom of our feet. My receding hairline is not a result of my lack of faith - any more than the far more serious medical conditions of so many Christians are a consequence of their lack of faith. But does this mean I am rejecting a literal understanding of what Jesus actually said, and limiting my interpretation of his words to an ethereal spiritual reality that excludes the real world of flesh and follicles? Absolutely not!

It is literally true that not a hair of my head will perish: everlasting life includes hair as well as hearts. Yes - this body might be killed in a rage of persecution, or in an attack of deadly disease. It might fade away one hair at a time in a lengthy aging process. But Jesus is assuring us that the worst that can happen to us is that our body will die. And even that is not the end of the story - for at the end of time, we will be raised in resurrection bodies in which everything that God has created to make us who we are will be fully restored and no longer subject to decay. Or hair loss.

Job was a man of faith. Not the kind of faith that believes that nothing can go wrong and we won't have to suffer. But the faith that knows that the ultimate promise of the Easter story that he did not know is resurrection.
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand [with real feet] upon the earth [not in heaven]. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh [with a full head of hair] I shall see God, whom I will see for myself, and my eyes [my real literal new resurrection eyes that no longer need glasses] shall behold, and not another. (Job 19:25,26)

Samson lost his hair and had his eyes gouged out, but gloriously his hair grew again. What a picture of resurrection life! All that has been lost in this life will be restored and perfected - from the tiny details like hair to the big issues like being able to see the Lord with our own eyes. This is our hope - and for this, our faith is rock solid. Jesus was not promising that a cancer patient undergoing chemo would not lose her hair, nor even that she would not lose her life. His promise was that in the end nothing would be lost in a complete resurrection that included body, soul and spirit. We look forward to the ultimate hair restoration - and so much more besides!

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