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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Today’s Scripture 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)

As we returned to Midway Airport from our mission trip to Cuba, one family member had come to pick up one of our travelers. It didn’t take long for us as we waited for our baggage to start telling our exciting, miraculous, fun stories. She listened attentively, but we could all tell that we were way more into our stories than she was. After all, we’d been there. She hadn’t witnessed what we had.

The two disciples who had actually seen the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus were excited. When they met up with the rest of the disciples, they began to tell what they had experienced. I wonder if those other disciples had that polite, semi-interested look on their faces, too. Maybe. But just then, Jesus startled all of them and appeared again—right smack dab in the midst of the whole group.

He showed up again to help those first two disciples tell whom they had seen on that road, as unbelievable as it sounded. He showed them his hands and his feet and the wounds still visible. And if that wasn’t enough, Jesus then said he was hungry, asked for something to eat, and ate. This was no ghost. This was the resurrected Christ, and he wanted them to know it.

Jesus went to such great lengths, such gracious lengths, to show the disciples what had just happened. He knew they needed to be witnesses to an event that would seem so implausible every time it was explained. “You are my witnesses of these things,” he said. And they did their job, helping to tell the story to people who hadn’t been there. The fact that we know the story proves that the witnessing has continued. We need to keep witnessing too, to the ways God appears to us in the most unexpected places, so people will “get” what happened, even though they weren’t there.

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for showing yourself to those first disciples. Help us, in the midst of our joy and continued disbelieving, to keep sharing our stories of your appearances to us. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor of Pastoral Care

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