Friday, April 22
Reader: “Look at my hands. Look at my feet.”
Response: “You can see that it’s really me.”
Scripture: Luke 24:33-49
And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.”
Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!
“Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet.
Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it as they watched.
Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things.
“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”
We continue the story of the last two days. Jesus had just vanished in the presence of the two travelers to Emmaus. Understandably they were excited and wanted to head back to Jerusalem as quickly as possible with their news. My guess is that they had previously come from the gathering of disciples and had decided to head back to Emmaus for the evening when Jesus ran into them. At any rate, their plans changed and they made a quick seven mile trip back to Jerusalem. Having found the disciples and the others still together, they excitedly began to unfold their story. As they spoke in the midst of everyone, Jesus suddenly became visible, appearing out of nothing, out of thin air! Understandably, the group was frightened, dare I say “spooked?” His words, “Peace be with you” did not exactly calm them down.
Put yourself in the room. What’s your response when a person who is supposed to be dead materializes out of thin air and begins to talk with you? He helps those gathered begin to process what they are experiencing by pointing out his nail-pierced hands and feet. Those are real identity markers for Jesus. He invites them to touch him to prove to them he’s not a ghost nor an apparition. How do you process something like this? He further helps them figure out the reality of what they are seeing by asking for something to eat, a very human activity. Ghosts don’t eat. Then, what I think is hilarious, Luke tells us they all stood and watched Jesus eat a piece of fish! Can you see them standing around with their mouths open? My guess is Jesus was laughing as he ate!
Then he reminded them of all he had said before he was crucified. And like the two men on the road to Emmaus, he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
While what happened to Jesus in terms of his death and resurrection were most important, the forgiveness of sins for those who repent was the thing of greatest significance. Salvation was offered to people of all nations on earth. Jesus told them what to do about this message. Stay in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven. I can easily imagine the gathered group of disciples pinching themselves wondering if what they were seeing and hearing was real or was it a dream? Yet, all of what Jesus said came to pass and the disciples turned the world upside down. Now it’s our turn to keep it going.
Music: “O Church Arise” Keith and Kristyn Getty
Blessed Christ, who in this glad and memorable day didst first fulfill thy promise of thy presence with thine own, revealing thyself as alive to those who mourned thee as dead: come to us now, find the secret way to all our hearts, lift the pierced hands in benediction over us, breathe upon us the peace that thou alone canst give. Amen. ―J.J. Paradise from Guideposts Prayers for Easter, p.73