1998-09-10 - New Reality
The Cross Series, Part 52
Luke 24:33-36 And they arose that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, 34 saying, "The Lord has really risen, and has appeared to Simon." 35 And they began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread. 36 And while they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst.
The morning before, they were beaten, disheartened and disbanding. The adventure of a lifetime had come to its final conclusion and it was time to go back to the old reality. In that half day, Jesus had appeared to everyone in the room, calling them back to Himself. When it says "they began to relate", I can well imagine they were just about shouting to each other with excitement. It is specifically mentioned that Jesus had appeared to Peter. This very personal visit would be all that could bring Peter back. Even though all this is happening around him, Peter may have been a very lonely man in a room full of friends.
The doors and windows were probably shut. They were still sought for by the authorities. Without fanfare or warning, Jesus simply steps into the room amongst the gathered disciples. The reactions probably ranged from tears of joy and praise to eye-popped, slack-jawed gapping. He was really right here. The promise of the ages, and all their battered hopes and dreams stood right in front of them.
Luke 24:37-40 But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38 And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit 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.]
At least a few of them were so startled that Jesus once again had to assure the group that there was no reason for fear. Jesus speaks gentle words of comfort and finite minds scramble to come to grips with the humanly inexplicable fact that Jesus was alive and well. Notice that Jesus does not mention blood - flesh and blood is the typical phrase. The Lord says flesh and bone. The blood the crowd had clambered for, that Jesus had willingly offered and the price of sin demanded had been completely poured out.
Lev 17:11 'For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.'
Millennia before, God had commanded Israel not to eat the blood of the animals they used for sacrifices. The blood was special. It was a reminder of life and the awful price of sin. It would be sprinkled on the door posts of the Tabernacle, and later on the altar. But all the blood of all those lambs before could only cover the sin that had already been realized. It could do nothing about the future other than offer hope. The blood of Jesus Christ destroyed the power of sin through His sacrifice. The law had been satisfied and God and mankind were reconnected.
Jesus would have a snack of fish with them while they marveled at His presence. Perhaps it was a sign to them that He was actually there - flesh and bone. Jesus also loved to eat. Eating together puts people more at ease. In that day, there were a lot of common bowls and trays. Sharing a meal meant dipping your bread or fish in the same dipping bowl. You were felt to be literally sharing yourself with those eating with you. After a bite to eat, Jesus would lead the group through the same Bible study He had done for the two on the road to Emmaus. A pin dropping would have sounded like a cannon, but I'm not sure one person would have moved their attention from their beloved Master as the salvation of the world was carefully unfolded before them.
Luke 24:48 You are witnesses of these things.
The people in the room were all eyewitnesses of the things Jesus had explained to them. It was absolutely true beyond a shadow of a doubt. We were not there. But we have the Holy Spirit of God living within us witnessing to our spirit that the things we have read are true. Our lives, hearts and minds have been changed beyond question. Even if we have never seen a healing or miraculous event, we are witnesses to the miracle of a changed life. We are not perfect. We stumble and stammer along at times. The new life we live in Christ is something we are growing into a day at a time. But living that changed life is the unmistakable testimony to the things we believe. It may be questioned or scoffed at along the way. But real-life Christianity that reaches out and touches lives, even when it stumbles now and then, will rattle the argument of the doubter. The questions will eventually ring hollow and shatter against the reality of a changed heart and mind.
Lord Jesus - You changed reality that day - from uncertain and unauthoritative to a sure and certain path to fellowship with You. Twelve scared men and their companions, your friends, saw reality change from death to life. Your nail-scarred hands and feet bore stark testimony to Your execution, while Your touch and fellowship spoke of Your victory over death and sin. Help us to see that victory again in the changes made in our lives. And, help us to live out those changes as a sure testament of the new reality You established. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.