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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Today’s Reading | Luke 24:36–49

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. 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.” (NRSV)

Doubt is a central theme in this familiar passage from Luke. When Jesus appears in their midst, the disciples don’t believe what they see. Jesus assures them that he is real. He asks them to look at his hands and feet and to touch him. He tells them that his return and his presence with them after death fulfill scripture. He then encourages them to spread the gospel throughout the world.

We all experience doubt in our lives—doubts about ourselves, about others, about the world. Doubt is also often a part of our life in Christ. At times we may doubt the Bible, Jesus, even God.

As we as a family thought about this passage and discussed its meaning, we found it very reassuring that Christ was so aware of the disciples’ doubts and so straightforward in his manner of dispelling them.

One of our family’s favorite children’s stories is Oscar Wilde’s “The Selfish Giant.” It is an allegory on the Christ story in which a giant who behaves selfishly befriends a little, Christ-like child. The giant, wondering who the unusual child is, sees wounds on the palms of the child’s hands and on his feet. He asks the child who has made the wounds, crying “Tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him.” “Nay,” answers the little child, “but these are the wounds of Love.”

For almost two thousand years, the gospel story has found its way into literature, art, and even movies. It is exciting to witness how the gospel has spread, and continues to spread, throughout the world. Christ lives. He lives indeed!

Dear Jesus, please help me to believe when I have doubts in you. Help me to see what you want me to see. Help me to hear when you speak to me. Help me to do what you want me to do. Amen. (Prayer by Caroline, age 7)

Written by Brett, Kristen, and Caroline Cochrane, Members of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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