Luke 24:36b-48

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

Jesus' first words to the disciples after his resurrection are, "Peace be with you." This is performative language that is an action. Jesus gives them peace in the context of the turmoil, the fear, and the hostility that has been their experience during these days in Jerusalem. Jesus is also responding to their fear, to their uncertainty as to whether it is really him or whether it is a ghost. In the ancient world a ghost was usually a malevolent spirit. There was good reason to be afraid of disembodied spirits in the ancient world because they were usually out to do harm to whomever they encountered. A consistent motif in ancient literature is that disembodied spirits are something to fear.

Jesus addresses the disciples' fear and doubts directly. My sense is that, on the one hand, there is a sense of calm in Jesus' voice; but also, there is the sense that Jesus is amused at the response of the disciples: "Why, why are you afraid and why do doubts arise?" His amusement might be expressed by a smile from you as the storyteller. Jesus' words express surprise as well as love and understanding.

Jesus telling his disciples to look at his hands and feet evokes memories of the crucifixion. What are they going to see? They are going to see the marks of the nails in his hands and in his feet. In effect the audience is invited to see these marks as well, int heir imaginations. The memories of the crucifixion are brought back by Jesus' words, but now in the context of his presence with them. The marks are a sign of his identity.

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