Thursday 11 April 2024

See me. Touch me. Feed me.

All the gospel stories of Jesus appearing to disciples immediately after the resurrection seem to be full of doubt. It's not just Thomas. Mary didn't, at first, recognize Jesus in the garden. The disciples who found the tomb empty didn't understand that it meant Jesus was alive, they thought someone had taken the body. When the women tell the disciples Jesus is alive and they've seen him, they don't believe it. Even on the road to Emmaus, the disciples don't recognize Jesus. How many times does Jesus have to say "hey, look, it's me?"

A lot. Every time, even. But is it really because they "doubt” Jesus? Or is it maybe that, after a seemingly unending string of amazing, miracle-filled days, there was one event that stretched them just too far. Death.

Sure, Jesus raised Lazarus and Jairus' daughter from death and he repeatedly told them that he would rise, too. But he was gone now. Who was going to do it? They were alone.

I wonder if it wasn't more than just shock and grief at their loss or fear of the authorities that caused them to hide away. I wonder if it was the greater fear that now it was up to them to carry on, teaching and healing as Jesus did, loving the outcast as he did, feeding the hungry as he did, showing everyone The Way as he did. Those were pretty big shoes to fill and now they were alone.

But then, there's Jesus, standing among them. "Peace," he says to them. In Luke, Jesus says "Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Then he asks them for some food and he eats it in front of them.  (Luke 24:39-43) The author of Luke wants to be clear: Jesus is alive for real, flesh and bone and empty stomach.

Jesus, Luke says, "opened their minds to understand the scriptures" (Luke 24:45). But wasn’t that what Jesus life had been all about? It seems like Jesus is repeating himself in this new life, but with a giant exclamation point of “see, I’m alive.” Or maybe he was just saying “I told you so.” And maybe that’s because they didn’t doubt Jesus or God or the power of new life, they doubted themselves. 

Here’s Jesus saying touch my wounds, feel where I was broken. I’m hungry, feed me. What if, now, Jesus wasn’t trying to show them Jesus, but reflect ourselves, our wounds, our brokenness, our hurt and our hunger, saying what he’d always said: reach out to the broken and hurting and embrace them, heal them. Feed the hungry. You can do it.

I wonder if the resurrection story isn't about more than belief or teachings or faith, it's about the new life that's as real as an outstretched hand and a shared meal. It's as real as recognizing the presence of Jesus walking beside us in whatever guise Christ may take.