The Surprise Visitor
Luke 24: 36-48
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
44 He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, ‘This is what is written: the Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.
"The need to welcome visitors and strangers as you would welcome Jesus himself is clear, but deeply challenging." From the Scargill Community promises.
I wonder what meal the disciples would have prepared for Jesus had they known he was coming to dinner on that day of Resurrection? Jesus is the extraordinarily surprising visitor; the disciples are startled and frightened and Jesus has to ask for food. No wonder Jesus had to say ‘Peace be with you’ to this trembling crowd of his friends.
Broiled fish – it does not sound like a banquet to me and hardly constitutes a meal– but it is enough to show that life is here and to trigger memories of other shared meals. Jesus asks for food in the joy of his resurrection. He does not tell the disciples off for their actions since Passover, but begins by giving them peace. Jesus’ body is resurrected and death is defeated and there is more life to come in which his friends are invited to participate – taking God’s invitation out to all nations. Jesus’ embodied presence brings joy and amazement. The disciples’ provision of food affirms the truth of life- they witness his resurrected body.
The surprise visitor reveals to us our heart for hospitality. Are we willing to drop our own plans to welcome this person? Will we share our food with them? Will we allow them to see us in our true state before we have had time to ‘tidy up’ or put on a show? Will we see them as gift to us?
You received the care of friends,
You ate their food and shared their tales
Gave your peace and told them truth:
They are loved, and not forgotten,
They are witness to the power of God’s
defeating darkness, death and violence.
Life has won, and Life is here.
God of surprises keep us open
to inconvenient interruptions
to new possibilities, new dreams,
brought by the life-giving Spirit.
As we live to love the world
in the name of the Wounded One.