They were startled and terrified and they thought they were seeing a ghost.† That is a giant problem, and it is really no good if we experience Jesus as a ghost.† Letís think about that for a minute.† I donít know about you but I donít think that there is any such thing as a ghost.† So experiencing Jesus as a ghost is experiencing him as nothing.† Itís very dangerous.
If you do believe in ghosts and you judge what you see as a disembodied spirit it is even a bigger problem because the scriptures and our Trinitarian Creeds do not permit believing that the Risen Jesus is a disembodied spirit.
So let us look together at this story about Jesus appearing alive.† The most stunning feature of this story is that Jesus still bears his wounds; he showed them his hands and his feet.† Ghosts donít have hands and feet and only Jesus bears those characteristic wound in these places.† It is as if Jesus were dead and alive at the same time.† That is what Paul gets at in his letters when he says I resolve to know only Christ and him crucified.† Jesus does not appear healed, but clearly he is present with the marks of his death but also as alive.
His marks are carried by our Lord as trophies, this shows and tells us that it was his whole human life including his death, which was made alive and presented before the disciples as a sign that he defeated death.† He defeated death not only for himself but for all who have an experience of him.
When Jesus happens to you, death becomes an empty shell.† None of us has any reason to fear being dead, something which is an absolute certainty for each of us, since the dead state does not separate us from the real source of life, this risen Lord who is now standing before his disciples.
Jesus appears as the one who was crucified buy is now in this state that Christians call risen.† The slaughtered Lamb has returned.† His wounds are trophies held up for us to see so that we might be encouraged by them.† Then Jesus makes sure we are totally off the ghost thing when he asks for something to eat as if to say you canít ignore me Iím real.
As if that is not enough Jesus then treats them to something that we do in our church, which is a bible study class, something like the one we do each Thursday.† Today the bible is our greatest treasure and our greatest danger.† The bible is the cause of very much moral and mental illness.† Much of what passes for bible study is just a mountain of manure.† So much of what passes for bible study in fact hides Jesus.
On the very day that Jesus rose he taught us how to read our bibles and it was not in the flat all scripture is the same view.† Jesus revealed a dynamic view of scripture that sees it all in reference to his risen-ness.
In terms of himself, means reading the scriptures through the eyes of Jesus.† Reading the scriptures through the eyes of Jesus is reading the scriptures in the same new and different way that Jesus read them.† Once more being like Jesus is our goal.† In other words the Word, Jesus, interprets the text.† We even have to judge the stories about Jesus like this one before us today in the light and eyes of the risen Lord.† The death of Jesus, his rising, the cross and resurrection all belong at the center.† Paulís promise to know nothing but Christ and especially Christ crucified, and Lutherís, the cross is our only theology are examples of this technique in using the scriptures.
We are in Thursday Bible class finishing up our study of the book of Acts.† The Book of Acts is marked by three great speeches one by Stephen, Peter and Paul.† The center of these speeches are a radical reinterpretation of the Old Testament in terms of the life death and resurrection of Jesus.
Without knowing Jesus we canít read the Old Testament properly because it is Jesus who told us what the bible is about, it is all about him, about his death at the hands of people who were sure they were doing Godís will.† He dies to show us how we love ourselves, our institutions and our habits over everything else.
We make ourselves into idols, we have made sacred places, we try to keep God in the boxes we make, but he will have none of it.† Jesus came to put an end to the temple, he makes no distinction between Jew and Greek, bound or free, male or female.† He rejects every distinction of status made by the defenders of religion.
I first experienced faith in Jesus from my family.† A long side of this and just as important has been my life long connection to the New Testament reports about Jesus.† They have enabled me to have a personal direct relationship that goes back to the first people who were witnesses to Jesus life death and resurrection.† These New Testament testimonies have shaped my faith and in turn my faith has given form and shape to the way I live my life.† It is so wonderful to have these and todayís lesson clearly underlines the continued need for all of us to do bible study.
The bible is about Jesusí death, which is revelatory and special.† Most significantly the bible is about Jesus resurrection and life.† In the Bible we see the veil drawn away and the light of life shines in our darkness.† The Bible is about a risen man, not a dead idol.† Properly read, the Bible is all about Jesus and all about life, because Jesus is the point of it all, flesh and bones body and blood he stands before us today.
1. What is the problem with seeing Jesus as a ghost?
2. Do you think it is interesting that Jesus rises with his wounds and not healed?
3. Why are these stories so important to our faith today?