Not A Ghost
At church on Sunday, during the greeting time, Mary and I went around the room giving and receiving hugs. What a powerful family connection when believers reach out, wrap their arms around one another, and greet each other like close brothers and sisters. Ghosts can’t hug. You have to have a flesh and bone body to hug.
Jesus’ resurrection promise is not that we will exist after death as ghosts, disembodied spirits. He promises to give us flesh and bone bodies just like He has, and Luke’s climactic revelation of the risen Jesus is given to us to prove this point.
“While they were talking about these things (the resurrection appearance of Jesus to the two disciples in Emmaus), Jesus Himself stood in the middle of them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ They were startled and afraid thinking they were seeing a spirit. He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled and having an internal debate about what’s going on? Look, my hands and my feet. It is I! Go ahead and touch me. A spirit doesn’t have flesh and bone as you can clearly see for yourselves that I have.’
After saying this, he showed them his hands and feet. While they still refused to believe it because of joy and the wonder of what was happening, he said, ‘Do you have anything to eat here?’ And they gave him a piece of roasted fish. He took it and ate it before them.” Luke 24:36-43
In the first century Roman world no one would have been astonished if you told them that you had seen the ghost of a loved who had recently died. I’ve had folks tell me of their visions of deceased loved ones and the comfort they received knowing that their loved one was continuing to exist. But this is not what resurrection means for those of us who follow Jesus.
In the resolution episode, after the climax of Jesus’ death on the cross, Luke makes it clear. After dying, after being placed in the tomb, Jesus stood alive in the middle of his disciples. They were allowed to examine his hands and his feet. Then to cap it off, they got to serve him some food and watch him eat a piece of grilled fish. All this was not to advertise some fish restaurant that was about to open in Jerusalem. It was to reveal to us that we are not going to float around for eternity as disembodied spirits. We are going to be given solid bodies, just like Jesus’.
You can’t give a ghost a hug, and this is why Mary and I are so thankful for the confidence of bodily resurrection. We can hardly wait not only to hug Jesus but also both of our parents who are already in heaven.
LORD, today I held the hand of an army veteran whose heart, liver, and thyroid are giving out. He asked me to pray for You to give him a little more time so that he can try to convince some of his friends to stop drinking and abusing drugs. Thanks that I was also able to tell him that You’re still saying to him, ‘Peace be with you!’ You will be with him through all the tests and treatments he faces at the Veterans Hospital.
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