36 While they were talking about this, 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. 49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Every generation gets caught up in the titanic warfare between good and evil. People today are cynical about politicians, the corporate world (represented by Wall Street), as well as the traditional church. Luke 24 gives us cause for hope – hope for a better future. It is not a hope that is based on a speculation or a feeling, but one that is grounded in the events of the death and resurrection of just one man, Jesus Christ.
Luke 24 describes three scenes following Jesus’ death. In each scene three themes are evident: fear, doubt and deep-down joy. In Luke 24:37 the disciples were startled and frightened; in 24:38 they were troubled and questioning; in 24:41 they were still disbelieving but nevertheless deeply delighted.
The disciples were perplexed as to what the events of the last few days meant. Now, when they saw Jesus they were terrified: was it really him or was it just a ghost? Jesus understood their fear and their doubts: ‘Look at the scars on my hands and feet,’ he says. ‘Touch me. A ghost does not have flesh and bones. Fetch me food to eat’.
In each of the scenes in Luke 24, the Scriptures and Jesus’ own words provide an explanation of what has happened. In this third scene these two elements are brought together, as we see in 24:44 – “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.” Jesus is saying that even his own words before his crucifixion did not rest upon his own ungrounded assertion. Everything he had taught and done had been written in the Scriptures. His words and actions, including his death and resurrection, could be said to be expositions of the Old Testament law and the prophets. The authority of those Scriptures is the same as the authority with which Jesus speaks.
THE RESURRECTION-A GLORIOUS MESSAGE
Luke 24 is not simply the story of a dead man who came back to life. It is not just a myth of a dying and rising god. It is not simply a fairy-tale that has an unexpected, delightful ending. This is the story that fulfilled God’s ancient words and promises – of his Messiah’s shameful death by crucifixion under the curse of a broken law, suffering the pains of God-forsakenness. Luke 24 was the fitting outcome for the innocent man who had cried out, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ The resurrection of Jesus has no significance without his death. It cannot point to forgiveness unless sin has been dealt with. The resurrection is a glorious message because it makes sense of the life and death of Jesus. For the first disciples it had seemed that Jesus’ death was the end of all their hopes. But then they discovered the news that it was in fact the ground of all their hopes – amazing and wonderful news, the power and promise of which is reaches out to for you and me today.
You may want to consider:
1. the striking elements about the scene described here: what does it tell us about Jesus?
2. the implications of Jesus’ response (24:39 and 43) – then and now;
3. the explanation that Jesus gives here (24:44 – 48) of the main purpose of the events surrounding his life, death and resurrection; consider further the implications of his words.
Let me encourage you to pray:
© John G. Mason, Reason for Hope – 40 Days of Bible Readings and Reflections – 2016. All Rights Reserved.
- Comments on the text of The Gospel of Luke are adapted from, John G. Mason, Luke: An Unexpected God, Aquila: 2012 ↩