While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, thinking they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why are doubts arising in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, for it is I myself. Touch me and see, for a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” After he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they still could not believe it for joy and were full of amazement, he said to 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.Luke 24:36-43
Did you notice from the remaining segments I gave you in Gem 1319 the fact that the gospel writers are stacking up the evidence for the appearances Jesus made to various people after the resurrection. The essential question is can we trust in the factuality of the resurrection or is it too good to be true? The resurrection is something that extends our ability to believe far beyond human credibility. As John records for us: 20:29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen Me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing Me.”
Notice the thrust of all that Luke has told is laced with doubt. The Eleven and the larger group of disciples have struggled with doubt all through the crucifixion and the post resurrection experiences. Luke spells out to us over and over the on-going nature of the disciples’ doubt and incredulity as to whether it is possible that Jesus could have risen from the dead AS HE SAID HE WOULD. There is the evidence of empty tomb, there’s the description of the grave clothes that can have no other interpretation than Jesus rose and passed through His grave clothes leaving them intact as they had been wrapped around Him. The angels announced that He was risen as He said, He appeared to Mary Magadalene, He appeared to Peter, He appeared to Cleopas and his mate, He disappeared when Cleopas and his mate recognised Him and then He reappeared after they told their story to the gathered group of disciples as if to reinforce the report the Two had made. Yet still there is doubt where there should be faith. Oh they responded with an encouraging statement which seemed full of faith following the appearance to Peter but it wasn’t on-going. It is all about on-going, consistent faith, not faith for a moment which fades quickly with the next challenge. What is needed is faith which holds firm despite the challenges.
Jesus initial statement of “Peace” is not merely a Jewish greeting. Rather it’s a prayer or pronouncement that they may receive peace in place of doubt. But instead the whole group descend into doubt, despite what has been told them by Cleopas and his mate. At that point, rather than believing He has risen, they suppose Him to be a ghost, an apparition, the disembodied spirit or the spirit of a recently departed person. They don’t stand firm and think “Risen Lord back from the dead”, they think an “ephemeral ghost”.
Jesus responds with two questions:
- “Why are you frightened?”
- “Why are your hearts filled with doubt?
Both questions are in tandem and reflect a rebuke of their lack of faith. Jesus asks what reason they have for their doubt when He is standing in front of them and has already explained the Scripture to the Two, who have just finished giving these disciples a summary. AT THAT MOMENT Jesus appears to add credence to the report of the Two. However, the reaction of the group remains faithless and full of doubt. WHY THE FEAR, WHY THE DOUBT? Why do you allow doubts to rise in your mind when there are so many reasons for believing He has risen? For all of us there are moments when irrational thoughts rise in our minds to detract from faith. We have to take control of our random doubts and lack of faith and go over the reasons for faith again. There were many reasons and proofs for these disciples to believe but they are stuck with irrational fear crazed thoughts. Does that happen to you too? Address the fears.
Given that scenario, Jesus holds His hands out and indicates His feet. The MY hands and MY feet is emphatic. The double use of the possessive pronoun is a further demonstration of proof to believe when observing BOTH His hands and His feet. Note that in Luke’s account there is no direct link made to the crucifixion and the marks being proof of the wounds of crucifixion. In John there is encouragement to believe and John sees their response is one of joy, a reason to believe. Luke on the other hand paints the situation as an obstacle to overcome from which to progress to faith. Note the timing of the “Peace be with you” comment is different in each account. In Luke it’s seen as an encouragement to believe In John it appears to be used as a response to their faith. It appears Jesus is using the nail marks on His hands and feet in response to their belief that He was a ghost and not in fact appearing in bodily form to them. This was proof of the fact that what they were seeing was real. Jesus says, “It is Me, Myself.” If you see (and touch) you will conclude it really is Me. i.e. I am not a ghost standing before you.[pselaphao] – Touch Me, feel Me, handle Me, hold Me. Test Me out and know that I am FLESH and BONE. What an interesting statement! Firstly the empirical approach to touching, feeling, handling, testing out. But then Jesus curious use of the words of His make up being one of flesh and bone, not the usual flesh and blood to denote human physicality. Much has been made by the commentators on this one. I refuse to spend time on their “deep” musings. What is clear is that Jesus is making the point to the disciples that He is indeed present physically as well as in Spirit. Much of the ensuing debate is over the implications extracted from the use of flesh and bone. That this is now a glorified body so thus our glorified bodies will have flesh and bone as well. Others focus on the absence of blood being mentioned and extrapolate that this infers that Jesus’ life force was no longer in the blood but the Spirit, or that blood was no longer necessary to keep Him alive, or that Jesus didn’t have any blood left because He had given it all up for us. Some grandiose thoughts indeed but isn’t the use of the flesh and bone to simply indicate what the disciples can observe. If they touch Him they can feel His flesh and the fact that He has form and substance, there is flesh and bone they can touch. You can’t feel and touch blood.
Luke continues with the doubt and fear theme with the comment “Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder.” They STILL lacked faith, they continue in their disbelief but with a mixture of joy and wonder. After touching His hands and feet and feeling His wounds they still did not believe, they were incredulous, it was just too good to be true. There appeared to be the mixture of doubt with a desire to believe. They wanted to believe, but was this all possible? Could it be? They had difficulty accepting the wonderful and awe inspiring fact of the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus. Despite the fact that all of Scripture pointed to the fact down through the centuries. Despite their doubt, they also experienced joy and wonder, but the word [thaumazo] includes not only wonder and awe but also amazement, bewilderment, to be dumbfounded. They are a mixture of both.
To which Jesus adds, Do you have anything to eat? Why did Jesus want to eat? Because He was hungry or for another reason? I think it was to show the disciples the true nature of who He was. He was not eating for sustenance, he was eating to prove to them He was physically, corporeally back with them. Ghosts don’t need food. Ghosts can’t eat food. Got anything to eat? Now watch guys, watch Me eat something. Likely as not they had already eaten. Is there anything left for Me to eat in order to show what My resurrected body is like? Perhaps the food had already been cleared away. A look at the versions will show you there is variation here – the fish was broiled, baked, roasted, cooked, leftover (MSG). The word [optos] can mean any of those forms. The method of cooking is not in focus here but rather that it was cooked and not raw. The fact that Jesus ate a piece of fish was proof of His resurrected body.
If we follow the comparisons between Luke’s account and that of John’s we note that there are two appearances to the disciples en masse. The one mentioned in Luke with Thomas missing and the one mentioned in John, eight days later with Thomas present. The remarkable story of Thomas’ doubts being allayed adds to the significance of Luke’s story. Jesus comes back a week later and does it all again. He is relying on the Eleven to get the point of all this so they can take the message to world. So He will appear as many times as it takes, He will tell them the significance of what is written in the Word over and over in order that they understand. The point of all of this is: do whatever it takes to get past your doubts and fears. There is abundant evidence to believe – find it, believe it.
But we are not finished yet. There is more to come.
Whatever holds your awe holds your faith!Judah Smith
Faith is a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is still dark.Rabindranath Tagore
Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up.Anon
All I have seen teaches me to trust the Resurrected Christ for all I have not seen.Ian Vail