READ: Luke 24: 36-48
When I was young, I was afraid of death. I wish I could say that it was because I was afraid of being separated from everyone I loved. But the truth was something else.
I remember watching a movie scene where the character died. In my horror, I went up to my dad and started crying uncontrollably. He kept asking me what was wrong. After a while, I finally told him, “I don’t want to die and be buried and be eaten by maggots and worms!” To this, my dad tried his best to assure me that my coffin would be so thick that no bug could enter.
I write this story with a lot of embarrassment. Of course I wouldn’t be able to feel them gnawing at my skin because I’d be dead by then! I’d be long gone even before they would lower my coffin to the ground.
The moral of the story was simple—choose to get cremated instead.
Kidding aside, this story reminded me of how our fears can really get the best of us. To some, a cockroach is just cockroach, but to others (like myself), the bug would look like a venomous demon that aims to land on your face. To some (like myself), a rollercoaster may look like the next big thrill, but to others, the ride would look like an accident just waiting to happen.
Now I could only picture the fear that Jesus’ disciples were feeling after they have heard of Jesus’ death and burial. From being Jesus’ posse in every town to being a bunch of men in hiding. How could it be, that the man they thought was the answer to all their problems was killed by the authorities just days ago?
These could probably be the kinds of thoughts circulating their heads: I’ve left my family for this man. Would the authorities recognize me the moment I went into town? Would I be sentenced to the same kind of death as Jesus? Would anyone accept me into their home after this?
Then, just as they were facing what could probably be the most uncertain forty-eight hours of their lives yet, something happened.
Two of their friends brought BIG news. When they gathered together, the two reported to them how Jesus appeared to them on their way to Emmaus (Luke 24:33-35). Then this happened:
“As theywere talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you!’ But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 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.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.”
While we all know the end of this story, I want to bring your attention to the first words Jesus said when he appeared to his disciples: Peace to you!
As I read this, I had to stop. Peace? No game plan? No wisdom on how to proceed? No solution on how to get out of their situation? No money to live on for the next months? No escape route to a distant country where no one knew their name? Peace??
I analyzed and tried to reanalyze the point. But what if… peace was the point?
What if this was how Jesus approaches us in our most uncertain moments? What if he was telling his disciples—and us—what they really needed in these three words?
I don’t doubt the fact that when we face uncertain times ahead of us, we need to have a game plan. We need to plan how to spend our time. We need to budget our finances. We need to figure out how to survive the season until we hit a better one. And it is only human instinct to think this way whenever we face the unknown.
But could it be that this isn’t what Jesus wants to tell us?
Jesus further drives the topic:
“’Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see.’” (38-39)
If I were to summarize this statement, I’d say that Jesus was just telling us one thing: look at me. Look at what I did for you. Look at how I conquered death. Look at how I have allowed you to finally enjoy me right now and in the life after. Look at me.
While it’s never wrong to plan, never wrong to be practical, and never wrong to take measures when facing the uncertain, Jesus tells us through this story that we’ll never truly find him there.
We’ll never find him if we’re too busy thinking about Plan B, C, and all the way until Z. We’ll never find him if we’re caught up in the doing and doing and doing.
But when we look to him, all that changes. We’ll see the marks of his hands and feet. We’ll see the body that was once beaten and bloody beyond all recognition made whole again. We’ll see—and know—that the most uncertain thing that could ever happen to us has now been buried and resurrected in Jesus Christ. O death, where is your sting?
This Easter Sunday, my hope is that you will know and live in the truth that Christ has died and resurrected. The victory is won. It is finished. And in whatever situation you’re going through, may His peace be with you.
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore, my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.”
Celebrate and declare this verse today. He is alive.