Luke 24: 36 – 49 Jesus appears to the disciples
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.’
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.
He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: the Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’
* * *
The risen Jesus had already appeared to Simon, and to the two disciples from Emmaus. The disciples from Emmaus hurried back to Jerusalem and found the Eleven apostles, and ‘those with them’ – probably the women who had seen the empty tomb. There were over a dozen people in the room, excited, talking over their remarkable experiences.
Suddenly, Jesus was there with them.
What must that have been like? It was late in the evening; it had been dark for at least three hours (two of those present had set off from Emmaus at nightfall, and walked seven miles). Three of them had seen the risen Jesus, but most had not. Their last sight of him would have been his lifeless body on the cross, or in the case of the women, laid in the tomb. St Luke reports that they were frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.
Simon and the two disciples from Emmaus had already seen the risen Jesus. Did they step forward and try to convince the others of the reality of the experience? St Luke doesn’t say so. Had their experiences been lacking in some way? Or was it all just so hard to believe?
Jesus said ‘Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself!’
Although St Luke doesn’t say so, the invitation to look at his hands and feet strongly suggests that the wounds of crucifixion were visible.
Jesus invites them to touch him. ‘Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have,’ he says.
And yet St Luke says: “…they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement…”
In a final attempt to convince them of the physical reality of his presence “…he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.”
Despite this, St Luke doesn’t write that the disciples were convinced that Jesus was really there with them. What he does tell us is that Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
St Luke has been scrupulous in how he has recorded the resurrection. He has told us what people saw and what they felt (men in clothes that gleamed like lightning; Jesus was recognised by them when he broke the bread; …they still did not believe it…). He has not made any unequivocal statement that Jesus was physically raised from the dead. Indeed, his narrative suggests that there was something different about the risen Jesus. The disciples had lived very close to Jesus, and they found something unnerving about his resurrection appearances.
Thank you for Jesus. Please help me to understand better how he is alive today, and how I can draw closer to him.
In Jesus’ name, Amen