Why Are You Troubled?
“Why are you troubled?” The risen Jesus says this to the disciples when he appears to them in Jerusalem. They are struck with both amazement and fear. Well, wouldn’t we be filled with a mix of emotions as well? What they are witnessing has never happened before. No one has come back from the dead–until now. And we, like the disciples, even though we know the prophecies of the Hebrew Testament, like they did. Even though we believe, like they did, our belief is still limited by our finite humanity, just as theirs was.
“And why do questions still arise in your hearts?” Well, because we are human. All of us, in our finiteness, are riddled with hopes and doubts. That’s just the way we are. More often than not for us, “seeing is believing.” There is a part of us, the doubting Thomas part of us, that simply does not trust something unless we can see it and touch it. This is especially true if that something is of a transcendent nature, that is, something like the Resurrection. Because we are flawed, because we can not know everything, we are subject to the kinds of feelings that Jesus is seeing in his disciples here in this passage. He knows this of course and he immediately begins to address these doubts with them. He is addressing the faith of the disciples here, as well as ours.
“Look at my hands and my feet.” Look! See! He invites them to come and touch him. He is no “ghost.” He is flesh and blood. He asks them if they have any food. They give him a piece of fish and he eats. Then, just as he did with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, he reminds them of the prophets and their prophecies about the Messiah, that he would have to suffer and die and, then, rise on the third day. He opens their minds to more fully “understand” the scriptures. Then he reveals to them what they are to do, that is, to preach repentance and and the forgiveness of sins to the rest of the world, starting in Jerusalem. With the Resurrection, Jesus’ mission of forgiveness is complete. Sin and death have been conquered. Though, in our sinfulness, we are still subject to fear and doubt, in faith we know that what God has done in Jesus is The Truth revealed to us in the flesh. Now, we too are called on to believe. To believe that which is truly divine and transcendent. For he who possessed the nature of God, let go of that, entered into our humanity, walked among us, and taught us about the love and the will of the Father. Jesus is truly the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And he has both shown us the love of God in action, and invited us to follow him. He has commanded us to love one another as he loved us. And if we are to follow him and to love as he did, we must be willing to suffer, even if it leads us to some “cross,” for his sake.
Jesus’ appearance and his words here reveal another truth to us as well. That is that when we are resurrected, it will be in both body and soul. Remember, again, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. When Jesus joined up with them on the road, he was flesh and blood, but they did not recognize him until the breaking of the bread. There was something about his resurrected body that was different. The perfection God made us in remains beyond our grasp and comprehension as yet, for we are still dressed in the rags of our mortal souls. We are blinded to our original and perfect beauty because of sin. When, please God, we are resurrected on the last day, it will be to the perfected body and soul that God made us in at the beginning. This is our faith. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Thanks be to God!
Lord, make of us your true and good disciples. Give us courage to hold on to you, especially in our doubts. Increase our faith, our hope, and our capacity to love all others as you do. We pray, as always, in the power of Jesus’ name. Amen!
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