The Gospel lesson for Sunday 4/18/21.
36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them 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. 44 Then 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.”
I harbor a certain amount of embarrassment that I have struggled almost all of my life with issues around food. The embarrassment is compounded as I face the hard fact that most of the world deals with hunger and near starvation while I contend with abundance and excess. People around us are physically and spiritually starving while I all too often horde the heavenly banquet in my heart, afraid there might not be enough. It has been said that everyone has a besetting sin; this one is mine.
And so we arrive at the third Sunday after the overwhelming (and to almost everyone alive at the time) unbelievable event of Jesus’ resurrection. As David Lose wrote,
“Thus far in Luke’s account, the disciples have heard and dismissed the women’s testimony, Peter then ran to the tomb and confirmed at the very least that it’s empty, two disciples on the road to Emmaus were encountered by Jesus and have returned to tell their tale, and now…wait for it, wait for it…now Jesus has appeared among them and invited them to touch him to dispel any doubts they may have that he is real. And then Luke writes, ‘While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering’….”
Anyone who believes that having faith means having no doubts, may be in for a shock when hard times arrive and their faith begins to falter. I just love this line: “While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering.” Raise your hand if you have never lived in this kind of spiritual tension!! “I believe; help my unbelief (Mark 9:24!”) is a mantra of mine!
Now we come back to food. Jesus the Christ is hungry! He is hungry for the food he probably ate only several days back, but I wager he is just as hungry for fellowship with his friends, his disciples, those folks he called family because they followed him and tried to live His Way. (See Mark 3:35 or Matthew 12:50) It is difficult to ignore the “fishers of men” reference in Matthew 4:19 and so also see in this meal a symbol of what he was about to ask them to do: be his witnesses. Yes, they had broiled fish, but Jesus was also asking whether they had stored up any spiritual food to eat and to share!
We see daily the manifestations of those who are starving spiritually. We see it in despair, violence, hatred, confusion, addiction and all manner of exploitation. It is good for us to feed those who are physically hungry; we are also mandated and commissioned to provide spiritual food—in word and in deed—to those who may not yet realize their spiritual hunger or malnutrition.
Jesus wants to feed us with himself so that we might be hungry in the very same way he is hungry… hungry for new life, for companions on the Way, for worshipful spirits and compassionate hearts. His body and blood both satisfy and tantalize; both give us new life and summon us onward, upward, inward and outward in ever-widening circles of challenge and grace. He came back to announce that God was keeping his promises and to instruct us one more time, while in his fleshly garb, what he came to do and what he wants us to continue to do in his name. That “last supper” was by no means a finality! We still gather to receive spiritual and physical food in his name. We still betray him from time to time by not doing what he clearly asks of us. We still bow before him and humbly ask for forgiveness and another chance to get it right. And he keeps feeding us his wondrous food for the soul so that our hungry hearts will be filled, eager to bring others to his Table.
e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan at email@example.com or 602.866.9191.
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website.