While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.
Luke 24: 36- 43
When they got back to Jerusalem, Cleopas and his companion discovered that Jesus had also appeared to Simon Peter. They shared their own news of how Jesus had appeared to them and how they had recognised him when he broke the bread. And then Jesus himself stood among them.
They were terrified. When Jesus had joined them on the road to Emmaus, he had done so in a very unobtrusive, natural way, just like any other traveller going in the same direction. This was different! The sudden, unannounced sight of their resurrected Lord was such a shock to their system that they thought he was a spirit, not a real person. So Jesus calmed their fears and demonstrated that he was indeed Jesus risen.
“It is I myself,” he said. And he showed them his hands and feet, inviting them to use their sense of touch as well as their sense of sight to see that it wasn’t merely the human spirit of Jesus that had carried on but that he had a real, physical body, identifiable with the body they had seen nailed to the cross. A body of flesh and bone.
It was still too much for them to take in, so he asked for something to eat. They gave him some fish and he proceeded to eat it in front of them, just as he had done so many times before, including on the night of his betrayal and arrest. He was the same Jesus.
And yet he was different! There was clear continuity between the body he had before his death and the one he now had in resurrection. The disciples could touch the marks of his suffering. He could eat their food. But it was also different, subject to different physical laws, able to appear suddenly and just as suddenly disappear, able to exist in two different worlds.
Christ died. He was buried, for he was really and truly dead. Now he was alive. Not resuscitated but resurrected. This was not a near death experience. It was a resurrection. It was not the spirit of Jesus living on in the faith of his disciples. He was really and truly alive, whether they believed him or not.
In these very simple but remarkable ways Jesus demonstrated to his disciples something of what resurrection means. It is life changing!
This is how the writer to the Hebrews expresses the impact of his resurrection: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14, 15).
This is how Peter expresses it: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…” (1 Peter 1:3, 4).
And this is Paul: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead…” (1 Corinthians 15:17-20).
I love the part about the Lord eating fish! And it makes me wonder. Are the references to eating and drinking with the Son of God in heaven to be understood merely as metaphors? Or (dare I say it) might there even be real fish and chips?