Peace! What a marvelously delightful gift!
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them. Luke 24:-43
I recently had a revelation. It was helpful, and testimony to the Holy Spirit’s influence – thanks be to God! We were dealing with an issue at the church I am now serving that was a matter of personal preference. It was one of those “people of noble character may disagree upon” issues. The issue isn’t as important as the revelation. A decision by means of vote wasn’t really going to solve the concern. We needed to come to a fuller consensus, not vote one way or the other. We needed God to shape our decision through prayer and conversation. The agenda should be one of prayer not vote. I hope we can come to true unity in this regard.
There sometimes needs to be that period of confusion before clarity of action and choice becomes possible. Sometimes that process is called Form, Storm, Norm, Perform. The group gets together (form), and they struggle with their true purpose and plans (storm). Once the storming has worked itself through, there comes a time of consensus in limits, we determine the normal way of thinking and acting. And then we perform. We do what needs to be done.
The disciples are in the storming phase of their calling. It may not look like it because they are in the doldrums. But make no mistake, there had been storming to be sure. Jesus’ death and burial had put them in a freefall tailspin. Now they will be normed. Jesus will show up and put some new boundaries on their activities. And these boundaries are at the same time both more restrictive and more horizon-stretching than they could ever have imagined.
That’s what Jesus’ resurrection does. On the one hand a whole new world of possibilities are opened up. Death does not have the final say. Satan is defeated. Hope springs eternal. On the other hand a whole new way of looking at life narrows our focus. No longer do worldly concerns garner center stage. No longer do we make decisions based on expediency at the cost of integrity, or short-term gain in place of eternal blessing. Life is no longer about what I can get for me, but what Christ has done for me.
But sometimes that clarity does not come right away. The disciples are in the doldrums of confusion and discouragement. They shouldn’t have been. Jesus had told them what was to have happened. It went just as he had said. The Scriptures had witnessed to this as well. None of this should have been a surprise. But it was.
How like us today! We should know better. We should be eternally-focused. Our horizons should be far greater and broader than we even can imagine. Our lives should be laser-focused toward the cause of Christ’s kingdom. We should never be distracted. We should never stray. But we do.
Jesus came to his discouraged and disappointed disciples and offered a greeting of peace. Then he gave proof of the reality of that moment…by eating fish. He comes to us as well, with a greeting of peace and grace. And he offers us proof of that when we have those moments of clarity and focus and peace that only he can give.
I’m really lousy at manufacturing my own peace. But Jesus’ peace is a grace beyond expectation and human understanding. Peace! What a marvelously delightful gift! Soon will come the focus and direction. That too is a gift. Next week…