READ – Luke 24:36-49
Easter is here! Christianity encourages both asking our questions about God and our being questioned by God – and the resurrection of Jesus (the center of Christianity) is no exception. Luke’s account of the resurrection is unique – the story in this passage is only found in Luke’s gospel. It’s also based on eyewitness testimony (Luke 1:1-4) which accounts for all the remarkable detail and oddity of the story – e.g. Jesus doesn’t come to confident, unwavering disciples, but doubting, disbelieving people, not providing them with profound sage wisdom, but asking if they have any snacks. These details seem incredibly odd – unless they’re there because they really happened.
Here Jesus leads his disciples from uncertainty to open minds, to understanding, and to participation in his mission. No matter where you are on the belief spectrum (uncertainty-curiosity-understanding-engagement) Jesus’ questions here are for you.
1. QUESTIONS OF DOUBT
Look at how Jesus addresses the disciples’ doubt. We see at least three things about how Jesus led them through doubt. First, doubts are expected. Jesus surprisingly, shockingly appears to the disciples – and they’re freaked out. But notice Jesus’ reaction to their reaction. Even though he had told them explicitly that He would rise from death, He wasn’t harsh or dismissive of their doubts. He seems to have anticipated them. Resurrection wasn’t easier for 1st century Jews to believe than it is for us. They were predisposed to find the resurrection of one person in the middle of history as not only unbelievable, but unwanted. Second, doubts are questioned. Jesus draws out their doubts to help the disciples get underneath them. That entails that Christianity is a thinking faith – Jesus wants his followers to have an examined, studied, reasonable faith. It also means that underneath our doubts, we have beliefs. In fact, we can only doubt something on the basis of other things we don’t doubt. To doubt the resurrection, means that you are placing faith and trust in scientific verifiability. We need to be open to doubting our doubts, being skeptical of our skepticism. Third, doubts are addressed. Jesus provides evidence to the doubting. He showed them and invited them to reach out and touch his physical wounds and flesh. What evidence do we have? We have the testimony of eyewitnesses of events they claim to have seen and participated in. This testimony and mission came at great cost to these eyewitnesses – often resulting in suffering and death. Why die for a lie? What did they gain? Also, the disciples lacked any interest in the tomb of Jesus. Burial places and tombs of religious and political leaders often become shrines – but no one to this day knows the exact whereabouts of Jesus’ tomb. Jesus’ resurrection accounts for this lack of interest.
2. QUESTIONS OF DISBELIEF
Jesus second question (“Do you have anything to eat?”) addressed the disciples disbelief. Disbelief is similar to doubting, but also different. Whereas doubt tends to be more intellectual, disbelief is more emotional. The disbelieving disciples thought that Jesus resurrection was just too good to be true – they disbelieved for joy, the text says. How does Jesus respond? With a question about food. Why? Jesus’ entire ministry seemed to at some level be centered on food – especially in Luke, Jesus is constantly going to a meal, at a meal, or leaving a meal. He’s eating a lot, to the point that people are starting to call him a drunkard and glutton. Feasting was one of Jesus’ favorite things. So in asking the disciples about food, Jesus is pushing their disbelief to its limits. He’s saying: “Could your joy be something not to distrust, but the thing that leads you to truth?” By eating broiled fish, Jesus is saying that our greatest earthly joys, desires, longings and treasured relationships will carry forward into a new creation, a resurrected, bodily existence. As C.S. Lewis said: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
What are some implications? (1) Christianity is a historical faith. Christianity stands or falls based on what happened in history – specifically, Jesus’ literal, physical rising from the tomb three days after his crucifixion. That means that at the heart of Christianity is not a set of practices, but news of victory. Something to be believed, not primarily something to be done. (2) Christianity is a wholistic faith. God cares about our souls and our bodies. He cares so much that He will resurrect and recreate them at the end of time. The resurrection means that Christians and the church should engage in efforts to minister to people spiritually and physically. (3) Christianity is a feasting faith. Christianity is about joy around the table, delight in community, a party with God forever. Do you want that? Only believe.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?
2. We all at various times and in various ways have pockets of doubt and disbelief – Christian or not. How did this sermon minister to you specifically?
3. How might you engage with someone who was skeptical of the resurrection? Where would you begin? Why?
4. The resurrection of Jesus is so rich and multi-faceted that it provides endless resources for our life in this world. What is one way that resurrection makes a difference in your life today?
5. What is one thing that might change about your week or this season of life if you boldly believed in the resurrection of Jesus? How could it impact your relationships, family, vocation, spiritual life?