The following is a reflection on Luke 24:36b-48, the Gospel lesson for Easter 3B and the Thursday in Easter Week, according to the Revised Common Lectionary.
The Gospel authors (especially Luke and John) go to great lengths to show that there’s something different about the resurrected Christ. Something so different that Mary Magdalene doesn’t recognize Jesus, and in fact mistakes him for the gardener, on Easter morning. And then the disciples on the road to Emmaus talk about Jesus all afternoon long, but fail to realize that they are speaking to Jesus, mistaking him for a stranger.
The Gospels don’t tell us what exactly was different about Jesus. Just that he is unrecognizable. Until Jesus calls Mary by name, or until he breaks bread with the disciples. Then they know it’s him.
Very quietly, gently, the evangelists communicate something very important to us: something happens in the resurrection which makes Jesus new. They are coy about the specifics. But, we don’t need the specifics to know that something is going on here.
And, it’s big.
But, one of the other things that the Gospel authors are also clearly intent on showing us, is that it’s really Jesus who rose from the dead. It’s not a phantasm. Not a spirit. Not a vision. Not a hallucination.
You can’t reach out and touch a hallucination. Visions don’t eat broiled fish.
Jesus has been made new, somehow, but Jesus has a body. His body may be mistaken for someone else at first, but he is corporeal.
You can touch him. You can eat with him.
And, he can pass through walls and vanish in a flash.
But, nonetheless, he’s real.
Everything is the same. And everything is different at the same time.
One of the key truths of Easter, is that Jesus really rose from the dead. But, one of the other truths is that it’s the beginning of everything being made new.
Jesus has been made new. Creation has been made new. And so shall we.
I like preaching on the unrecognizable Jesus. It tells me that Jesus can be anywhere—everywhere, in fact—so we should keep our eyes open for Jesus breaking bread in our midst, and keep our ears open for when he calls us by name.
But, preaching on the corporeal Jesus also has it’s merits. Jesus took on flesh and blood in the Incarnation. And, he doesn’t shed it in the Resurrection. He keeps his flesh and blood.
He is still one of us. Still our brother.
He doesn’t shed his skin at the first chance. He holds onto it. And he holds onto that which makes us, us.
What an honor for us. And, what a redemptive moment for all of creation, that our Risen Lord doesn’t cast us off, but instead makes us new.