For the Love of God, Volume 2/December 10
From Gospel Translations
2 Chronicles 10; Revelation 1; Zephaniah 2; Luke 24
THE RESURRECTED JESUS APPEARED to his disciples on several occasions. Here we reflect on Luke 24:36-49.
Notwithstanding what the Bible says about the transformed nature of the resurrection body (especially 1 Cor. 15), in this section Jesus goes out of his way to demonstrate that he is not a dematerialized body or a disembodied spirit. He can be touched; the scars of the nails can be seen (that is the significance of his words, “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself!” [24:39]); he speaks of himself as having “flesh and bones” (24:39); he eats some food in the presence of his disciples (24:42-43). This is entirely consistent with other voices in New Testament witness. It is unimaginably glorious: death has been beaten, and the longpromised king, once crucified, is now alive.
But Jesus insists that at one level his disciples should not have been surprised. He had been predicting for some time that he would die and rise again, but they had no categories for accepting his words at face value. Now he goes further: what has happened to him has fulfilled what was written about him “in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (24:44—i.e., in all three divisions of the Hebrew canon, which were often referred to in just this way). That Jesus has to explain this to them presupposes, of course, that as far as he is concerned they really have not properly understood the Scriptures up to this point. So now he opens their minds in order to overcome this deficiency (24:45). He does this by synopsizing what the Scriptures say—just as on the road to Emmaus he explained to the two disciples precisely the same thing. On that occasion he began with Moses and all the Prophets and explained “what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (24:27).
Clearly Jesus read the Old Testament in an integrated way, with himself at the center of it. From the New Testament records written by Jesus’ immediate disciples and heirs, we can gain a pretty comprehensive glimpse of his self-understanding in this regard. He saw himself not only as the rightful messianic king in the line of David, but also as the suffering servant who would be wounded for our transgressions. He knew he was not only the atoning sacrifice but also the priest who offered the sacrifice. He was not only the obedient Son who discharged the mission his Father assigned him, but also the eternal Word made flesh who disclosed the Father perfectly to a generation of rebellious image-bearers. And so much more. And all of these things we should see, too, and bow in solemn, joyful worship.