Faith-Sustaining Patterns in a World of Stockpiles
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Faith cannot be stockpiled. It needs a pattern of replenishment. Today, the disciples are hungry. While their stomachs may not be rumbling, their hunger is shown in their lack of certainty about who Jesus is. Even though they were just talking about how Jesus walked with two of them on the road to Emmaus, his real presence now frightens them. Doubt, disbelief, and fear are like hunger to the disciples.
Jesus relieves the hunger with his risen presence. When the disciples are unsure what to make of the mess that life has become, Jesus shows up. When their hunger for truth and certainty is most apparent, Jesus walks into the room. The answer to someone’s hunger is not to ask why they are hungry. Nor is the answer to doubt a question about why they cannot believe. The answer is food. The answer is the real Jesus showing up and easing fears. Everyone’s faith needs sustenance. Those who listen to the preacher and gather at the table today are looking for the God of truth and love to settle their doubts.
Even though Jesus’ disciples had been speaking about his appearance to two of them on the road to Emmaus just verses earlier, Jesus does not become agitated at the fact that the disciples are afraid of him. Jesus expects the fears and the doubts about his presence in the room. He knows that one post-resurrection appearance to them will never be enough. There will need to be more appearances to sustain the faith of generations of disciples!
The appearances become a pattern, with Jesus entering into the lives of his disciples, eating with them and teaching them. Finally, Jesus sends the disciples out as witnesses. Today the witnesses come back into the pattern of Jesus’ appearance to remember what was witnessed—so that their own testimony of a Savior who sets their fears at ease will also ease the doubts and fears of other hearers.
Gospel: Luke 24:36b-48
In this account of an appearance after his resurrection, Jesus opens the minds of the disciples to understand him as Messiah. Jesus convinces them that he has been raised and sends them on a mission to proclaim the message of repentance and forgiveness.
36bJesus himself stood among [the disciples] and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate in their presence.
44Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things.”