Jesus stood among the disciples and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you– that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
In this Easter Week we continue to celebrate the joy of Jesus’ resurrection as we hear stories of his post-resurrection appearances from the Gospels. In today’s passage from Luke, Jesus comes to his friends and speaks words of blessing— ‘peace be with you.’ We should take note of how remarkable this greeting is, as it was the first encounter Jesus had with his disciples since they had abandoned him to his death just a few days prior. And now, seeing them again for the first time, Jesus does not scold or reprimand them but offers words of blessing and peace. The disciples, for their part, are terrified and think Jesus is a ghost. They have not yet been able to accept and believe what they had been told by the women who visited the tomb early on the first day and by those who encountered Jesus on the Emmaus road. In the face of their fear Jesus again does not scold but instead offers his friends exactly what they need. He offers his hands and his feet as proof— real, tangible proof— that it is him. He is risen. Yet even then they still fear and doubt, so Jesus asks them for food, and he takes a piece of fish and eats, again gently showing himself to be no ghost but their risen Lord.
Jesus comes to his friends, offering them exactly what they need so that they might believe. Jesus equips his friends, for they have work to do. The news of Jesus’ resurrection cannot be contained among this small group, and Jesus tells them that they are to be witnesses to this great news. They will be his witnesses ‘in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). They have good news to share. The amazing story of the Church is that this small, fear-ridden group of disciples was indeed transformed, and they really did become witnesses to the risen Christ to the ends of the world.
We stand in line with the disciples as witnesses to our Lord’s resurrection in our own time. And Jesus will equip us, just as he did for them, to witness to his victory over death. So what do you need from Jesus in this time so that you can proclaim this good news—what words of comfort or blessing or what tangible sign are you seeking? Ask, and believe that it will indeed be given to you.
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.