The words and actions of Jesus with his disciples were clearly designed to convince them that he had risen from the dead.
Luke 24:36 – 43
Jesus appears to the disciples
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 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.’
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
Jesus makes it clear here that he had physically risen from death. He was setting aside ideas of him “spiritually rising” which have come to the fore at various times in the history of the Church. He physically died; he physically came back to life. The disciples thought he was a ghost (lit. “spirit”) but Jesus draws their attention to his hands and feet. He invites them to touch him to confirm that he is flesh and bone. As if to place the matter beyond doubt he asks for food and ate it in their presence. He wanted them convinced of this so that when they proclaimed the gospel it would be clear that Jesus had defeated death.
The reaction of the disciples was rather sad in many ways. They were filled with superstitious fear thinking they were seeing a ghost. They were deeply troubled, and doubts filled their hearts. Even after Jesus had given them words of encouragement and reassurance they still were not believing “out of joy and amazement.” It is sad because they had the most convincing evidence possible of the resurrection, Jesus standing before them and talking to them, and they were confused. It shows us that the problem people can have with the resurrection of Jesus is not necessarily solved by more evidence. It is more a need for a readiness to have a change of attitude to God.
Jesus also provides them and us with encouragement and instruction on how to react in the face of the reality of Jesus rising from the dead.
Firstly, he gives the overall assurance, “peace be with you.” What more could we want? Jesus has died for our sins, there is no more condemnation. He is risen, there is life eternal. What a glorious foundation for us to know peace, peace with God, peace forever. It is there for all who will trust him to provide it.
Secondly, in verse 38 he asks two questions, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts rise in your minds?” The clear implication of these questions is that there is no reason for anxiety and doubt. In fact, the exact opposite is appropriate. The reality displayed by the death and resurrection of Jesus is that God is far more loving and concerned about our needs than we could ever have dreamed to be possible. Jesus condemnation and death mean our punishment has been borne and we are no longer under condemnation. What is there to fear or be troubled by? Jesus resurrection means we have life eternal; death has lost its sting. The goodness of God cannot be doubted, our Lord is to be trusted.
Thirdly, Jesus’ instruction to the disciples to see and feel him as risen Lord, is effectively Jesus saying, “Be convinced!” The evidence is there; accept what has happened. Accept the brilliant goodness of God to his people. Entrust your life to Jesus.
Head and Heart: Be convinced by Jesus that he really has risen so that you can love and trust him.
Hands: Act like somebody who knows that death has been defeated for them.
Prayer: Father, please forgive us that we can be just like the disciples as described in this passage of your word. We can doubt and be troubled. We need to be constantly convinced. Please help us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A song to listen to: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
Living Church – Creek Road