36 They were still talking about it when — there he was, standing among them! 37 Startled and terrified, they thought they were seeing a ghost. 38 But he said to them, “Why are you so upset? Why are these doubts welling up inside you? 39 Look at my hands and my feet — it is I, myself! Touch me and see — a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones, as you can see I do.” 40 As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 While they were still unable to believe it for joy and stood there dumbfounded, he said to them, “Have you something here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 which he took and ate in their presence.
44 Yeshua said to them, “This is what I meant when I was still with you and told you that everything written about me in the Torah of Moshe, the Prophets and the Psalms had to be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds, so that they could understand the Tanakh, 46 telling them, “Here is what it says: the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day; 47 and in his name a chance of heart leading to forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to people from all nations, starting with Yerushalayim. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 Now I am sending forth upon you what my Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been equipped with power from above.”
Mark’s gospel, which Luke was using as one of his sources, stops with the women running frightened from the tomb. Matthew’s Gospel with which LUke shares some special material, does not include this scene. Doubtless there were many stories of the risen Jesus to choose from. Luke favours those which he can place in Jerusalem as his theological geography demands that the gospel goes out from the holy city.
Every little detail of Luke’s account is carefully chosen to communicate his truth rather than to maintain “historical accuracy”. The reader is being instructed in the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection:
1. It is a revelation from God. It is not willed by the disciples but given to them from beyond. Jesus appears.
2. It is natural to doubt the real presence of Jesus.
3. The risen Jesus is not a ghost/ disembodied spirit, but a bodily presence, although the body is not subject to time and space as ordinary bodies are.
4. The risen Jesus is identical with the executed Jesus; he bears the wounds of crucifixion.
5. He is therefore in some sense dead and alive at the same time. He has not ceased to be the executed messiah.
6. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the meaning of the Torah and the Prophets. Luke does not specify (although the mentions of the Psalms is unique) the key passages that support this interpretation of scripture. Rather Jesus’ words are permission for believers to interpret the Jewish scriptures in this way, and to find the relevant passages themselves. At this point, Luke is preparing the way for his second volume, The Acts of the Emissaries, with its story of the Assemblies of Jesus. He reminds the reader that the purpose of Jewish belief is to be a blessing to all nations. In the story of the transfiguration of Jesus, Luke depicts him speaking with Moses and Elijah about his “exodus” in Jerusalem. Here through Jesus’ death and resurrection, this exodus, this break-out into the gentile world, begins.
7. The resurrection is the presence of the one who has been rejected, betrayed, abandoned and murdered. But it is a forgiving presence, that is, Jesus is alive to announce God’s forgiveness of those who have a change of heart. This is the message of God’s rule with which Jesus began his ministry: “the rule of God is near; change your hearts and believe the good news!” Now it must be announced to the world. The resurrection and the message of forgiveness are two sides of the one coin; Jesus is alive in the unrestricted communication of God’s goodness.
Luke’s story makes these points. It is telling the reader the real truth of the resurrection rather than details of how the disciples came to believe it. He lays particular emphasis on the interpretation of Scripure. That is because their “old” interpretation of scripture is also a their interpretation of their own lives. Now they must interpret who and what they are through the executed and risen Jesus. They cannot believe his resurrection without a fundamental change in their view of their own lives. Luke means that the “intelligence of the (risen) victim” will always be an essential part of resurrection faith. God is revealed as the aliveness of Jesus, when Luke reports him as using the divine name “I AM” – “It is I” revealed to Moshe from the burning bush.
None of this is a report of events that might have been recorded on CCTV. It is not a newspaper account in which the words refer to ordinary events, and might be replaced by other words. No. It is a story of fundamental reality which must be told in just these words, as only they point to the unspeakable truth the author wishes to communicate. This is also true of the other gospels’ witness to the resurrection. they are not like alternative versions of the one news story which can be pieced together by a diligent reader. Each one of them is a unique testimony to the executed and risen Jesus.