24:36b While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
24:37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
24:38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?
24:39 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.”
24:40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.
24:41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
24:42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
24:43 and he took it and ate in their presence.
24:44 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.”
24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,
24:46 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,
24:47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
24:48 You are witnesses of these things.
A Question or Two:
- Why does the storyteller care that it was a piece of broiled fish that Jesus ate?
Some Longer Reflections:
“Have you anything here to eat?,” asks Jesus.
In this scene, this is part of anchoring Resurrection in the real world where real people really live. Real people eat. Jesus eats. That means that the Christian faith is NOT a disembodied abstract religious feeling, or a faith that only ripens in heaven. The Resurrected Messiah does not transform his followers into spirits who are free from earthly concerns because they are above it all. The Resurrected Messiah, instead, joins his disciples in one of the most earthly and everyday of activities. He eats just like we eat.
In a story like this, every detail has implications:
- Jesus eats. That implies that physical existence is real and significant.
- Jesus eats. That implies that the real world is as real to the Resurrected Messiah as it is to us.
- The Resurrected Messiah eats. That implies that Resurrection works out its meaning in the real world, not in heaven.
Stop and think about that. The Resurrected Messiah engages the real, physical, earthly, social, political, economic, complicated world. “Going to heaven” (whatever that means) is so much simpler.
I am writing this on the anniversary of Dr. King’s “Mountaintop” sermon.
“I have seen the Promised Land,” said Dr. King. “I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”
Go read Dr/ King’s last speech (you can find it at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkivebeentothemountaintop.htm ). Or, better yet, go listen to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDl84vusXos ).
Notice that the Promised Land is not in heaven. “Something is happening in our world,” said Dr. King. “The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same: ‘We want to be free.'”
If you know anything about the history of the rising up of masses of people to which he refers, you know that none of those situations was at all simple. The process was messy and full of setbacks and missteps. But it was real, and it took place in the real, physical, earthly, social, political, economic, complicated world that we live in.
When Jesus eats, it is not so we can escape the complicated world.
It is so we can listen to Dr. King with new ears. The Resurrected Messiah makes a difference in the real world. No matter how complicated that is.
And it will be really complicated. The women who organized the Women’s March know that. The students who organized the March For Our Lives know that. The candidates who are running for office and the people who are registering voters know that. The people who take this moment seriously (and I know women and men, students and old people, Republicans and Democrats and Socialists and Libertarians who take this moment seriously), those people also know that.
The question will be: Will we continue to take the complicated world seriously?
Remember, Jesus ate something.