Luke 24:36-43 “While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 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.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They have him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.”
Jesus’ disciples were startled and frightened. Certainty that Jesus had risen from the dead still had not sunk in, even though his living body was now standing in their presence.
Of course, there were reasons that Jesus’ presence did not have its immediate, intended effect. His entrance was more than unusual. We don’t hear, “All of a sudden, there was a knock at the door, and there was Jesus, waiting for someone to let him in.” Luke doesn’t write, “While they were still talking about this, Jesus came walking into the room” or “climbed in through an open window.”
No, all of a sudden, there was Jesus, standing in the middle of the group. His body simply materialized in the room, as though Scotty had just beamed him down from the Enterprise. I don’t have to tell you that’s not normal.
Add the fact that Jesus was supposed to be dead, in spite of the reports that these men had heard, and they can come up with just one conclusion: They aren’t dealing with a resurrection, but a haunting. They thought they were seeing a ghost. They were filled with fear and doubt, but I want you to know that today even their doubts contribute to our Easter certainty.
You see, these men were not gullible half-wits ready to believe any fantasy someone could dream up. They understood that dead is dead, and that any exception to that rule is a miracle of the highest order, at least this side of Judgment Day. They had seen Jesus raise three people from the dead, but after Jesus died, who was left to raise him? Certainly not one of them. Their doubts, their uncertainty, led to even greater proofs for you and me, and the Easter certainty of seeing Jesus’ living body.
The proofs Jesus offers that this was his living body are not hard to understand. “Look at my hands and feet.” See the scars from the nails of my crucifixion on my hands and my feet. Who else would fit this description today? “Touch me and see.” Your hands don’t pass through the image in front of your eyes. They meet resistance and are stopped by my real human flesh and my real human bones. This is not just smoke or vapor you are seeing. Still not convinced? Okay, “Do you have anything here to eat?” Watch it go into my mouth–munch, munch, munch, swallow. Okay, where did it go? The same place it goes when you have something to eat, Mr. I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Actually-Him. This is my body! I am alive! Stop doubting and believe!
So Jesus’ body gives us certainty to go with our joy. Jesus lives, not just as a fond memory, nor the wispy, bodiless remains of one more of death’s sad victims. He is the living, flesh and blood conqueror of sin and death. He is the Almighty Lord whose power and love continue to save and serve and guide and guard his people today.
That certainty and joy don’t stop at his body. They apply to our bodies as well. Paul writes the Philippians, “..the Lord Jesus Christ…by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Our bodies will live again like his, and what glorious bodies they will be! They will be real, living bodies with hearts that beat, eyes that see, finger tips that feel, ears that hear, tongues that taste, noses that smell, and all the wonderful senses we enjoy, but perfected and purified. They will be whole and healthy bodies free from pain or death, ageless and changeless. You can forget your glasses, your hair-coloring, your knee brace, your pill bottles, your diet restrictions, your hearing aids, and how to dial 911, because the resurrection will make that stuff obsolete. The new bodies Jesus will give to us contribute to our Easter joy.