"See my hands and feet; touch my skin; feel my bones; feed me!"
What more did these disciples need?   What more could Jesus
do to convince them?


 

[Cleopas and his companion] rose up that very hour and
returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those
who were with them gathered together, saying, "The Lord
is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" And Cleopas
told 
about the things that had happened on the road, and
how He was known to them in the 
breaking of bread.
As they said these things, Jesus Himself stood 
in the mist
of them and said, "Peace to you."

But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they
had
seen a spirit. He said to them, "Why are you troubled?
Why do
doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands
and My feet, that
it is I. Handle Me and see, for a spirit
does not have flesh and
bones as you see I have."

When He had said this, He showed them His hands and
His feet.
But while they still did not believe for joy, and
marveled, He said
to them, "Have you any food here?" They
gave Him a piece of a
broiled fish and some honeycomb.
He took it and ate in their
presence.
                                                     Luke 24:33-43 NKJV, condensed


                                      Peace to You! 

Why were the eleven disciples so skeptical! Why were they
frightened and terrified when Jesus suddenly appeared in their
midst? What was behind their doubting and why couldn't they
let go and be happy?

In addition to their shock and grief, I think there might have
also been some shame. They had proved themselves to be less
than loyal when challenged by the cruel events of the past three
days. First Judas betrayed Jesus into the hands of Roman
soldiers. Then the remaining disciples surrendered to their
fears and fled. Peter recovered momentarily but in the courtyard
outside the trial proceedings he denied ever knowing Jesus.

After that we hear nothing from these eleven men until the
Sabbath was over and Mary Magdalene and some other women
claimed Jesus was not dead, but alive. Jesus' chosen disciples
did not believe their words! In fact they stubbornly hung on to
their doubts. But what exactly was it that they couldn't believe?

On the night Jesus was arrested his disciples did nothing to
stand up for, or stand by, their hero. They simply hid in the
shadows. It's no wonder they hung their heads as they again
reassembled under one roof. How does one make amends for
bad behavior? And put an end the tyranny of guilt?

The women among their group had at least watched the
crucifixion from a distance. They made sure they knew where
Jesus was buried so they could prepare spices to anoint his
body the morning after Sabbath. But Matthew, Mark and Luke
mentioned no praiseworthy activity among the band of
apprehensive disciples.

So, even if Jesus were alive, there was no reason why he
should want to return to them. To say the disciples felt badly
is probably an understatement. Not only were they dealing
with the untimely and sudden death of their leader, they also
may have pondered whether Judas took the more honorable
route by committing suicide. Life with Jesus must have seemed
like a distant dream, with a very unpleasant ending. Especially so
because they had learned things about themselves which filled
them with disgust. It's hard to believe good news when you
feel so lousy about yourself.

Peter was the name Jesus had given to Simon. Peter, as in
"the rock." But in this text, Peter has reverted to being Simon.
Now on the evening of resurrection day, Simon avowed that
he had seen the risen Lord. And a winded Cleopas and his
companion arrived with reports about their encounter with
the living Christ who walked with them on the road and
broke bread with them in their home.

While the others in the room tried to make sense of these
exciting words, Jesus suddenly appeared center stage and
gently said, "Peace to you." Peace! There hadn't been any peace
for days, because troubled thoughts filled their minds while
self-pity and self-reproach reigned in their hearts.

"Peace to you."--the words did not sound like his command to
the wind and waves on the stormy Galilean Sea. Instead they
rippled like a gentle wake. The peace of Christ is pure grace,
a gift offered to those who know they are unworthy. If God
could raise Jesus from the dead, then surely God could free
them from their sadness and those chains of doubt.

The religious authorities had been so smug about chiding
Jesus because he ate with sinners. To which Jesus replied it
was his job to seek and save the lost. Here, with his beloved
disciples, he ate once more with sinners. A spontaneous meal
of broiled fish with honey; a sacred moment of giving to each
other just as they had always done.

Easter was dawning gradually for the disciples. In the midnight
hours, a spark of hope ignited. Together, the men and women
in that room would become the foundation of the church.
But first they had to make peace with themselves, peace with
each other, and peace with their Savior. Maybe that's what
Easter is all about. Because Jesus lives, we too shall live.
Because he forgives, we too shall forgive. Because he loves,
we too shall love. As we accept the peace he offers, we in turn
offer peace to all. In so doing, we celebrate Easter every day.
Peace to you!

 

Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.

 

Icebreaker: Describe a time when you fell short of your own
                      expectations.

 

Does it surprise you that the eleven disciples were slow to believe
that Jesus, who had been dead and buried, was now alive and well?
            How do you think you would have responded?

 

Discuss the symbolism of a grave, and list some of the "graves"
people find themselves in.
            Which ones from your list do you have the biggest problem with?
            Who or what put you in the grave?
            What are the lessons of Easter that will help you get up
                    from your grave and move forward again?

 

How has your understanding of Easter developed from your
childhood years to the present?
            For you, what is the real Easter message?

 

"If Jesus can break through the bonds of death, on our behalf,
then he can walk us through any illness, any sadness, any fear,
any confusion, any hopelessness, any suffering, anything at all.
The resurrection happens when we know that we are not alone."
            React to the above statement.   In what ways is it true for you?

 

When the disciples saw the resurrected Jesus they didn't know
if they were seeing a real person, a ghostly spirit of some kind, or
whether they were hallucinating. People still debate the question.
            On which side of the debate are you?
            Does the verse about Jesus taking nourishment prove
                     anything to you?

 

What is the relationship between how a person feels about him
or herself and what they believe about God?

 

A personal encounter with Jesus was essential for many of the
original disciples in order for them to believe that Jesus was not dead,
but alive. In the book of Acts we read that the lifestyle of the early
Christians attracted new believers.
            How does the "Jesus is alive" message get passed along
                     to others in our day?

 

Imagine yourself in Jesus' presence as he looks at you and says,
            "Peace to you!"
See him offer you the gift of his grace and peace.
Watch as you empty your hands of the hurts from your past
            and receive his gift.

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