While the disciples are gathered talking about the reported sighting of
Jesus on the road to Emmaus, suddenly he appears among them, saying “Peace
be with you!”. Despite this friendly greeting they are shocked and scared,
thinking he’s a ghost. ‘What’s the trouble? Why do you doubt?” He invites
them to inspect and touch the scars of the wounds he’d received on the cross
just days earlier. He’s not a ghost – ghosts don’t have flesh and bones.
They were overjoyed and amazed, but still unconvinced. Jesus performs
ghost-busting action number two. He asks for something to eat, and they give
him a bit of barbecued fish, which he eats in front of them. Ghosts don’t
eat (think about it!).
Jesus’ point is that he has been raised from death in material form. He may
look a bit different than he did, and he may seem able to appear suddenly
through locked doors, but his risen body is still made out of molecules and
cells, not just coloured air. The resurrection that some Jews believed in
had actually happened, at least in his case. And he was inviting his friends
to inspect his form.
Not that this was any great surprise, Jesus says, if we have studied the
scriptures and believe them to be true. It was written that the Messiah
would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day. His resurrection was
simply the fulfilment of the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms.
Moreover, there was a purpose to all this: in the name of this risen
Messiah, a message calling upon people to repent (turn back to God) and
receive forgiveness for their sins would be preached (i.e. communicated) not
just to Jerusalem, but to people of every nation. Jesus’ disciples are
witnesses to what has happened, and they are going to be the ones who will
take the message out, once filled with holy Spirit.