The three Sundays after Easter share “resurrection stories” following Jesus’ death on the cross and the discovery of the empty tomb. I have to think that Jesus’ disciples must have been a mess in those early days after the crucifixion…grieving, afraid, confused, uncertain. They must have been asking themselves, “What happened to Jesus?” “And what will become of us?” There were rumors and reports of Jesus showing up here and there, talking to the women, making his way through closed doors, sharing a meal with a few on the road to Emmaus. Who knows what raced through their minds and hearts as they tried to hold all this information together! Was this all the result of intense longing for a lost loved one or perhaps a ghostly visitation or was it possible that Jesus was again, in bodily form, among them?
Into the midst of this angst and struggle, Jesus comes to the disciples with a word of greeting, “Peace be with you.” He then emphasizes the fact that he’s there in the flesh. Jesus invites them to touch him…something they couldn’t do if he was a ghost! And then he does something equally delightful…he asks for a snack. They get him a little leftover fish and find themselves “joyful, disbelieving and still wondering.” Isn’t that a great description? How often are we, just like those early disciples, a mix of joy and disbelief and wonder? As people who live with the knowledge of profound hurt in this world AND the knowledge of God’s redeeming work and love, I would have to say that we are often a mix of joy and disbelief and wonder! And just as he did with those early disciples, we trust that Jesus also speaks words of peace into our hearts, into our midst. Jesus turns our minds and hearts, our eyes and ears back to the truth we know, opening them again and again. And Jesus reminds us that we are now witnesses…those who can share this truth with others.
I hope you’ll join us for online worship at 9:00 this Sunday as we offer our praise and thanks to God, as we connect with God’s love, community and call and as we explore our faith together. Stay tuned for information about upcoming in person worship opportunities on Sunday afternoons in our courtyard. You are also invited to join the Wednesday Bible Study that reviews the scripture and sermon topic from the previous Sunday and reflects on the questions of the week. If you’re interested in joining us from 11:30 to 12:30 on Wednesdays, please notify the church office or Pastor Lori and we’ll send you the Zoom link. Drop-ins are welcome!
Luke 24:36b-48 (NRSV)
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
Questions to consider:
- For you…what difference is there between peace and security?
- Why was it important for the early church to claim and profess the physical resurrection of Jesus? Why wouldn’t a ghostly apparition have been enough?
- How are you a witness for God? For Jesus? For the power of resurrection?
- How do you experience yourself among the “joyful, disbelieving, wondering” disciples? Does that sound like bad news or good news?