Luke 24: 36-43
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.
The two who had met Jesus on the Road to Emmaus had come back to Jerusalem, and heard from the disciples there that Peter had seen Jesus – it is interesting that Luke does not record that encounter. Then, as they all stood around, excited and wondering if what they had heard was true, or just the overwrought dreams of aching hearts, suddenly Jesus stood among them. The doors were locked – they were frightened of being found by the Romans, or themselves arrested by the Jewish religious leaders who had so recently killed Jesus! And yet, there Jesus was, among them. The disciples are frightened, thinking they are seeing a ghost. What else would one think, when one you know has died has suddenly appeared before you?
And yet, Jesus himself asks why they are frightened, and tells them he is not a ghost. Why do they doubt? How could they not doubt? This is something completely outside their experience, or even their belief system. Jesus says touch me, see the nail holes – his body is real, in spite of having come through the locked door. The Jesus who rose from the dead is the same Jesus who suffered on the cross. That is the point that Jesus is making here! He has a physical body, which he goes on to prove by having them touch him, and by eating with them. This is what we are speaking of when we say, in the Apostle’s Creed, that we believe “in the resurrection of the body”.
Jesus’ resurrection is unique. It is not a resuscitation, as when Jesus raised Lazarus – then it was the same body, healed, that came from Lazarus’ tomb. But with Jesus resurrection, it is the same Jesus, but with a resurrected body, a new body – he still bears the wounds of the crucifixion, and they can touch him, and he can eat; but this is a glorified body, he can also come through locked doors to meet with them.
We are to learn, and to remember, that 1. Jesus really did rise from the dead; there were numerous witnesses to his appearances; and 2. That it really was Jesus, in a real body, not just a spirit or ghost. And finally, the disciples were joyful – their doubts were overcome by joy! When we meet the Risen Savior, he overcomes our doubts with the joy of his presence!