While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look 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.”
And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. -Luke 24:36-43 (NRSV)
There is not a single depiction of the most important event in the New Testament – the Resurrection. There are only indirect ones. There are two types – the empty tomb and appearances of the risen Christ. One of the things Jesus wants to show his disciples with these appearances is the reality of his resurrection. And in this story in Luke, we learn that Jesus is not a ghost (or a spirit). Neither is he a resuscitated corpse. Resurrected life is an embodied experience.
Jewish beliefs about when life begins are varied, but there is one that believes life begins when a baby is born – that is, with its first breath. I think this ties beautifully into Genesis 2:7, when God forms humankind from the dust of the ground by breathing life into that dust to create a living being. It also goes along with the Jewish concept that body and soul are not separate – that a human being is a creation with one embodied existence.
This concept resonated with me when I saw my grandson born. When I saw him draw his first breath and witnessed the presence of life embodied in that new little human being. I cannot adequately describe the moment of his birth. But I can show people the result of it, when they touch him and feed him. They understand the miracle of birth, but the wonder of his presence, of the flesh and bones they hold in their arms is the miracle that is real to them.
When we are baptized, we are born into a new life, and that life should be embodied in our existence. It needs to indirectly depict the reality of the Resurrection, so that people can see it put into action with our hands and our feet, with our flesh and our blood. We need to live, we might say, a Resurrection life.
We know that you bring life from death.
Give us the strength to embody the Resurrection,
so that we are able to show others, with our actions, that you are real.
In the name of the risen Christ,