April 19, 2015: Third Sunday of Easter
The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. While they were still speaking about this, Jesus stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled, and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? Why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet. Can you doubt that it is I myself? Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” As he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. They were still incredulous and amazed. He then asked them for something to eat—fish–saying to them…. “Thus is it written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:35-48)
Once again, Jesus is faced with his own followers who are struggling mightily to believe that he is indeed walking among them. Two of the disciples are reporting that they recognized him in the breaking of the bread. As if to back up their story, which the others might have a hard time buying, Jesus once again stood in their midst, saying, “Peace be with you.” Still not quick to get the picture, they were afraid. Jesus asks them again why they are so troubled by his presence, and by the continuing questions that they have about his resurrection. Jesus turns to something they know well—bread and fish. Is there a more basic, more essential, more life-giving sacrament than food? Luke makes a point of Jesus eating with his disciples. Not what would be expected of him in his risen state? Not a ghost—not in purely human form. What were Jesus’ friends to think of this transformation like no other they had experienced? And why did Jesus continually speak to them of peace?
Clearly, Jesus knew what it was like to be human; to need reassurance; to experience great anxiety in unfamiliar situations. They loved Jesus, but didn’t get what they expected from him—a kingdom of some sort–and were struggling to figure out what it all meant for them, for their safety and for the future of the Jesus movement. A frightening time. So, Jesus did what we sometimes do, as well. Sit down to eat and drink, recognizing each other again over dinner and conversation as we talk things over; reassure each other that the future is worth the risk and we can move forward through the scary moments in peace; and, look to the leader to remind us that the journey of faith we are on together is not for us alone, but for the kingdom which Jesus preached.
Jesus met the needs of his followers by meeting them in their very human needs for food, fellowship, and blessings of peace. His presence was enough to allow them to put aside their fears and their questions in order to get on with the task at hand in peace. Where are the areas in your life where a meal, a word of peace, or encouragement might heal and transform? Take the risk, extend the invitation, and just do it!