Continuing our journey through Luke’s resurrection stories, we will read Luke 24:36b-43 (used by the RCL on Easter 3B). Just the one passage this week.

Where are we?

It’s still Easter Day. Cleopas and the other disciple who had recognized Jesus in Emmaus have returned to the eleven still in Jerusalem and told them about their experience. Jesus actually interrupts their story with his arrival.

This same sequence of events is attested in Mark, albeit in the extended ending of that gospel that is generally considered to be a later addition. John’s version of this week’s story points toward Thomas’ demand for proof and doesn’t include any mention of the Emmaus story. Matthew’s resurrection appearances are an independent tradition.

This is really just the first part of this passage. The conversation will continue next week with Luke’s version of the Great Commission.

What’s going on here?

Speaking of John, there are some textual variants in this passage that might reflect the influence of John’s gospel on this story. In v. 36, Jesus’ greeting, “Peace be with you,” and v. 40 where Jesus shows the disciples his hands and feet, correspond to the resurrection appearance in John 20. It seems to me that these aren’t details Luke would have found significant; I’m not certain just what ancient manuscripts we’re talking about and what that means for establishing an earliest text.

Unlike in John, when Jesus does show his disciples the wounds on his hands and feet, insisting that he’s no ghost, the disciples still don’t believe him. It seems that the act of eating fish is really what does the trick; compare to last week’s story with the bread and the raising of Jairus’ daughter.

This passage, which is similar in so many ways to the Emmaus story, inverts a key sequence. Here, Jesus eats first and explains the scriptures later (next week).

John Shearman points out that Jesus promised in Luke’s account of the Last Supper not to eat and drink with the disciples until God’s Kingdom is fulfilled. Are we seeing the fulfillment, here and in last week’s story?

Paul Nuechterlein quotes a wonderful story about recognizing Jesus’ vulnerability, even his disability, in the scars he displays after his resurrection.

So what?

I do all this work to arrive at “so what?” because that seems to be the part I don’t leap to naturally. Especially this week, I’m not sure just yet. This story is so much like the Emmaus story (and I’m endlessly fascinated by all the different layers of similarity and difference), but it doesn’t go the same direction. In fact, it hasn’t gone anywhere yet. Maybe there will be a better “so what” after Jesus’ explanation of the scriptures and commissioning the disciples to be witnesses, next week. But my hunch is that there should be something worth responding to just in this account of the appearance itself.

Michael Coffey goes the eating direction, drawing the connection between eating and community. Like most churches, we pride ourselves on our habits of eating together. In what way do our meals together demonstrate the risen Christ? Is there something particular about the way churches eat (or the way we ought to eat) that is particularly revelatory?

Suzanne Guthrie draws us to the importance of flesh-and-bone bodies in the resurrection. If this doesn’t happen in physical life and change the way we interact with those in need in our physical world, then the resurrection isn’t worth much. Seen in this way, however, how is the resurrection something other (more) than a moralistic nudge toward better care for others? The “correct answer” seems to be that caring for others is the resurrection at work, but as someone who is prone to care for others at the expense of my own relationships, I need something more nuanced.

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