Their Eyes Were Opened
A Biblical Study for the Easter Season 2016
Based on the Gospel of Luke
The Fifth Week of Easter (April 24) For this page in PDF format, click on the title
Easter 5 by the Rev. Dr. Jane Patterson
I. LISTEN to the audio interview or read the transcript below. The interview is based on this verse: “Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself.”
Question for Reflection Tell a story about a time in your life when the wounds of Christ were especially important to you.
Listen to a reflection by the Rev. Jonathan Wickham, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, Corpus Christi TX, below, or read the reflection The wounds of Christ
II. READ and STUDY the Scriptural Passage:
Luke 24:33-43: That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 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.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence.
Commentary on the Passage
Among all the resurrection accounts in all the Gospels, this one is the most physical. Elsewhere, Jesus is hard to recognize (24:16) and his body can appear (24:36) or vanish (24:31) in an instant, or show up suddenly in a locked room (John 20:19). While he feeds others (as in 24:30 and the seaside picnic of John 21:9-13), he himself does not eat. Here, Jesus manifests flesh and bones, and even eats a fish. This physicality is important for several reasons. One is that his presence is not the spooky presence of a ghost but the fully vibrant presence of the living Jesus Christ. From his beginning, Jesus is full of the life and love of God. Such a life cannot be conquered by death. Secondly, we assume that the hands and feet he asks them to touch and behold are the same hands and feet that were brutally nailed to the cross. He is never separate from his suffering. Even God’s beloved has suffered and knows the suffering that is common to all human beings.
Though Jesus proclaims peace when he appears to the disciples, their response to his presence among them is to be “startled and terrified,” and to doubt what they are experiencing. Their encounter with the empty tomb had told them that Jesus had been vindicated by God, but they did not necessarily expect him to show up among them afterwards. What would have made sense within their worldview would have been to imagine Jesus now alive to God, but not showing up on a road, in a house, at a dinner table. They have no mental framework for what they are experiencing. The familiarity of Jesus’ body—his recognizable hands and feet, hair and eyes and chest—is their one guarantee that he is truly among them still, guiding and teaching them his unfolding good news.
III. RESPOND to the following questions:
• Find the connections between the interview and the biblical story.
• Is there a connection between the interview and your story?
• While the resurrection accounts may be familiar to many Christians, they remain strange and difficult to grasp. What has been the significance of the resurrection of Jesus to you? Have there been times of darkness or loss in your life that have given way to joy and new life?
• What sorts of things give you more confidence in your faith?