12 July 2012Luke 24:36-43
"While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'" (v. 36)
In the aftermath of Jesus' crucifixion, the disciples were confused, grief stricken, and in fear of their lives. Over a period of time, stories started to be told of women, individuals and small groupings of disciples glimpsing the risen Jesus. It was such wonderful news, such amazing hope; the disciples could hardly believe it was true.
In this passage, for the first time, after the crucifixion, Jesus appeared to all of the disciples, gathered together. He stood among them and offered them "Peace". The Hebrew word for peace is 'shalom' and conveys well-being and completeness to the whole community. In Luke's Gospel the word is used to communicate salvation, wholeness and healing. Jesus who has been crucified, is now risen, and continues to have the power to offer the disciples salvation. Death has not overcome Jesus' divine power.
A deep sense of peace - a peace passing all rational understand - is what the disciples need to move through their grief, to renew their hope, faith, and strength.
Jesus understood that disciples also needed to realise that his resurrection and risen power is were real, had a physical reality in this world and life, and was not a vague spiritual abstraction. He invited them to touch him (verse 39) and he asked them to give him a piece of boiled fish and he took and ate it (verses 41-43). His risen power was not just the wishful thinking of grieving friends, carrying things on in his memory. The risen Jesus has a deep real power to bring salvation in the here and now of a bodily present world, and in our present moment.
- The disciples' belief in the resurrection of Jesus doesn't happen all at once. It began in a number of reported odd meetings, before Jesus finally appeared to them all together. When you look back at dark times in your life or that of your community, when God seemed to be absent, in what ways has your recovery of hope been piecemeal, or odd glimpses which have gradually gathered momentum and become substantial and real?
- When have you experienced the deep peace of shalom that Jesus offered the disciples? What happened?
- Why did Jesus think it so important for the disciples to believe that he was physically risen, and more than a ghost or spirit?