And here we come to the end of Luke. Jesus shows up among the disciples and says, “Peace be with you”, and they (of course) do not recognize him, thinking he’s a ghost. Those on the road to Emmaus don’t recognize him and neither do the disciples here. The resurrected Jesus is a whole Jesus, but the Jesus fixated in their brains is broken. They can’t imagine a Jesus who is whole anymore, and because of this (perhaps among other reasons) they don’t recognize him. Much in the same way that they do not have an image of a whole Jesus and therefore don’t recognize him, I wonder if we don’t have an image of a whole earth, and therefore we quickly fall into hopelessness and despair about its condition.
It seems that the world is spinning into more and more chaos and brokenness, but what we need to hold on to is the idea that though today may feel like the world’s “Good Friday”, God is resurrecting this earth. God continues to and will continue to work toward a wholeness. What we need is to be captured by an imagination of a whole earth.
Then Jesus identifies himself. They now know who he is, but still “were disbelieving”. They were filled with joy, but still unsure. And what does Jesus do? Well, he asks, “have you anything to eat?” What a strange thing to ask. Why does he do this? Perhaps because he hasn’t eaten anything since the Passover a few days ago and he’s had a quite weekend? “I Got arrested, was whipped, beaten and crucified, died, was buried into the earth for couple days, resurrected, went on a seven mile walk with Cleopas and his buddy, and now I’m here with you folk, so…. got anything to eat? I’m pretty dang hungry.”
I think what’s happening here is Jesus is emphasizing his humanity. He is resurrected in the flesh. He’s not a ghost. He’s not a spirit. He’s in the flesh. And with what he’s about to do, he wants to make sure they know it. This is not some strange vision. This is Jesus in the flesh, and he is about to ascend to heaven.
But before he does, he says these ever so important words: “You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
He says to his disciples “you are witnesses.” And what are they witnesses to? Not to theology. Not to history. Not even to the scriptures. They are witnesses to their experience with Christ. They are witnesses to what what Christ did in their midst, what he taught them, how he died and how he even stood before them whole and holy at that moment. And so they wait for the “power from on high”. And then Jesus ascends to heaven.
Beloved, as Christ’s disciples, we too are witnesses. Not to theology. Not to history. Not even to the scriptures. We are witnesses to our experience with Christ and to a world which Christ is making whole. Where the Book of Luke ends, the Book of Acts begins and continues to be told today through our lives. By the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us, we are to go out into this world and boldly, but not obnoxiously, tell about how God has worked within us to be laborers for wholeness in this world; and then we are to actually be laborers for wholeness in this world, and through our witness, we are to call others into being laborers for wholeness in this world. So, lovers of God, what do you say? How about we get out there?