Dispatch One Hundred Thirty-Seven

Posted: April 20, 2015 in Thirty-Third Bundle
Tags: , ,

LUKE 24:36b-48

36 Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 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.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence.

44 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.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 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, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.

The essential mystery of the resurrection had less to do with the chance encounter with a body-once-dead-but-brought-back-to-life than with the post-crucifixion experience of a grace that had become so identified with the presence and personality of Jesus that its event inspired the conviction: “He is alive!”

The fact that even in the appearance stories Jesus is frequently unrecognized by even his closest followers until he identifies himself to them, reinforces the view that we are dealing here with something much more profound than a merely resuscitated body. Again, it is not the thing “out there” but the experience “in here” that is the heart of the resurrection mystery.

Why, then, does this storyteller portray the risen Jesus as inviting verification from his dumbfounded disciples? We can sense behind this episode what must have been a significant criticism in and around the author’s community, from individuals and parties who were beginning to challenge the validity of the so-called resurrection experience. As safeguard to the authentic Christian experience, the Gospel writers inserted into their stories narrative remarks and reported events that would address these doubts and rumors.

For instance, Matthew inserted a brief exchange between the guards, who were as close to being witnesses of the resurrection as anyone could be, and the chief priests of the Jews. After reporting to the priests what they had seen, the guards were paid and instructed to say that some disciples had come by night and stole away with the dead body of Jesus.


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