8 April 2010

Luke 24:35-48

"Jesus himself stood among them and said to them 'Peace be with you' ... Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures." (v.36, 45)


I wonder if "Peace be with you" was what the disciples were expecting Jesus to say? It is, of course, an everyday greeting of the time - an ancient version of 'hello'. But the impression is given that this is more than that. To a group which includes those who have denied Jesus, run away and deserted him at his arrest, and disappeared during the horrors of the crucifixion, his greeting to them could have been very different... "Well, a fine bunch of followers you lot are, you weak, pathetic...!"

But no. The gift of the risen Jesus is peace, and given to those who think themselves faithless, unworthy or estranged. All are offered the reconciliation of peace. Perhaps the only sound in the room when Jesus spoke peace was an audible sigh of relief by the group of disciples?

Luke is also at pains to make it quite clear to readers that this is no apparition. In some other resurrection accounts in the Gospels Jesus tells people not to touch him, but here the invitation is clear. 'Go ahead' he says. 'You won't go right through me!' This is reinforced by the request for food. A ghost doesn't get hungry. Jesus is real but is not identical - his hands and his feet make plain he is the living one who died, and the marks of crucifixion remain. Resurrection has not reversed crucifixion but transformed it.

Then there is some teaching which follows a common pattern for resurrection stories. Jesus locates himself as the one the Scriptures speak about, and points out that his recent crucifixion is not a cataclysmic accident but a divine plan of salvation open to all, to which his resurrection is the climax. This is the basic but wonderful 'death and resurrection' movement inherent in all Christian believing. This is the faith to which his disciples are to bear witness. It's also the faith to which all subsequent disciples become witnesses - including us.

To Ponder

How might the offer of peace be made to people, communities and situations that exercise your spirit today? What will you do about it?

Where do you see 'death and resurrection' occurring in Christian life and faith today?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Martyn Atkins

Martyn Atkins is a Methodist minister and currently serves as general secretary/secretary of the Conference. He was president of Conference in 2007-8.