Jesus, Still Flesh of Our Flesh and Bone of Our Bone: Luke 24:39-49

How do you know that something is true?  That’s a crucial question these days, especially when truth looks as if it is becoming an endangered species.  Sometimes, we think that science is the way to get to the truth.  That’s why we often find the phrase, “Studies have shown” to be persuasive.  Although you may never see the data, you assume it’s true, because “studies have shown” it to be true.

But if you don’t have scientific facts, then what do you do?  Some folks talk about a “leap of faith” and then simply believe that something is true, even if it may not be true.  For them, it just “feels right.”

What about something like the resurrection?  We say that we believe in the body’s resurrection.  The Church has confessed that truth since the beginning.  Even more, that’s the whole point of these seven weeks of Easter.  The body of Jesus is risen.  That means our own bodies will also rise on the Last Day, guaranteed by Jesus’ own resurrection.  But how do we know that’s true?  And how can we know to trust Jesus instead of Muhammad, Joseph Smith, or for that matter, our own feelings?

The last chapters of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all deal with the hard evidence of Jesus’ resurrection, each in their own way.  We find the open, empty tomb and folded, burial cloths.  We see the nail-pierced hands and feet, and the spear-pierced side.  We have Jesus showing Himself to others.

That’s how you build a case in court.  You present the evidence.  You call eyewitnesses to testify what they have seen with their own eyes.  So, that’s what Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do.  They are testifying, laying out the evidence for you, and for the entire world, that this Jesus is the crucified and risen Messiah of Israel, the Savior of the world, and the Son of God.

Why can you trust Jesus?  You can trust Him because He’s risen from the dead.  That’s a matter of history, of historical fact.  Our faith rests on facts, not feelings.  Our faith rests on two historic facts: Jesus died, and on the third day, He rose from the dead.  Those are the facts.

That’s what the Apostle Paul and Pastor Sosthenes tell us in 1st Corinthians.  They write, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14).  Then, they conclude that “if Christ has not been raised, then … you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).  Our faith rests on the truth that Jesus is risen from the dead, not on our fleeting and fickle feelings.

But then we get into matters of faith.  What are we to do with those facts?  Faith believes that Jesus’ death is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.  Faith believes that Jesus’ resurrection is our life and salvation.  That’s what faith believes.

After Jesus rose from the dead, Luke tells us about Jesus using a meal to reveal Himself.  Jesus greets two disciples as they are walking to a town called Emmaus.  But Jesus prevented them from recognizing Him, even though one of them, Cleopas, knew Jesus well.  They only recognized Jesus when He broke the bread at the dinner table.  Then, they rushed back toJerusalemto tell the other disciples.

Luke tells us that Jesus’ disciples are startled, fearful, and doubting.  Who wouldn’t be?  The news is just beginning to sink in that Jesus is risen.  The reports are still sketchy.  And before you can say, “Alleluia,” there He is.  Jesus is in the flesh, right there among them.

The disciples think they’re seeing a ghost.  But Jesus shows them the evidence: His pierced hands and feet.  Those piercings mark Him forever as the Crucified One, the One who sacrificed His life for the sins of the world.  They also authenticate Jesus.  Consider the evidence: nail holes in His hands and feet; a spear mark in His side.  This is no fake Jesus.  Before them stands the real deal–Jesus in the flesh.

Jesus invites them to touch Him.  He can do that because He’s not a ghost.  He is bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh.  Because Jesus rose bodily from the dead, we also believe that our bodies will rise from the dead.  His tomb is empty.  The disciples not only saw Jesus; they touched Him.  His flesh and bones are real.

Are you still not convinced?  After all, this is beyond any of our human experiences.  Resurrections don’t happen.  So, what does Jesus do?  He takes some fish left over from dinner, and He eats it right in front of them.  It’s not that He was hungry.  He wasn’t looking for a snack.  Jesus is providing further evidence to His disciples.  Ghosts don’t eat.  Eating is something that someone with a physical body does.

So, again, Jesus reveals Himself during a meal.  Are you beginning to see a pattern here?  That’s what Jesus still does even to this day.  That’s what He does for us every Divine Service in His Supper.  Word and Sacrament are where the action is.  That’s where we can reliably expect to meet Jesus.  Jesus is shaping His disciples, so they know where they should expect to find Him: In the Sacrament and the Word.

At the table, while eating with them, Jesus opens their minds to the Scriptures, the Old Testament, so they can understand Moses, the prophets, the psalms, and the entire Old Testament.  It’s all about Him, about Jesus.  Before God’s people knew the Messiah would be named “Jesus,” before the Son took on our humanity, the entire Old Testament was laying the groundwork.

That’s a third piece of evidence: The Scriptures.  They point to Jesus before Jesus was ever born.  And Jesus fulfills all that was ever written about Him.

The Bible is the record of the Mystery sojourning among us, the Word who made everything in the beginning, the Promise to one man named Abraham, which created a nation out of slaves.  It’s about the Word who brought freedom from slavery, who split theRed Sea, and carved out the only nation in world history through whom the Messiah would come.

Embedded in that history ofIsrael–in its successes and failures, strengths and weaknesses, and ups and downs–is this singular message: God’s anointed One, the Messiah, would suffer, die, and on the third day rise from the dead.  Centuries, even thousands of years before it all happened, it was written down and handed on, all pointing to that Friday when Jesus would say, “It is finished.”

With minds opened to the Scriptures, the Apostles and disciples would change the minds of the nations.  Jesus would tell His Apostles to “preach repentance into the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 24:47).  And that’s what Christ’s pastors do to this day.  “Present evidence; confess the truth.”  And that’s what Jesus’ disciples do to this day.  And Jesus, through the Spirit He has sent, opens the minds of others and turns them to His forgiveness, bringing them to God the Father.

Isn’t it surprising that Jesus entrusted this Truth to such a group of frightened, doubting disciples.  Of the many ways that our Lord had at His disposal, He used what looked to be the least efficient, weakest, and most vulnerable.

If we ran the show, we would have used angels or something that would have frightened and awed the people into believing.  But that isn’t what God chose to do.  He chooses to have people speak His Word on His behalf.

When we speak the Word, when we speak Jesus to others, the Word is not our own.  The truth is God’s truth.  The victory is Christ’s victory.  The power is the power of the Holy Spirit.  For salvation’s work is already done, carried out for all on the cross.  Now that work must be told and confessed to others, to every adult and child that Jesus is Lord, that He is Savior, and that He is risen from the dead.

The Apostles started inJerusalemand then went out from there.  Tradition says that John made it into Asia Minor, first taking care of Jesus’ mother, Mary, atEphesus, and then becoming the last living Apostle in the Church.  Thomas went toIndia.  Paul preached the Word all over the Mediterranean world.  In our time, the truth of Jesus came to us, a gift just as it was that first Easter to the first disciples.  Someone told you.  Someone told you of Jesus, of His death and resurrection.

You, in turn, tell others what you’ve been told.  That’s how it works.  It may not be the most-efficient way, but it is God’s way, so who’s going to argue?  You are confessors, confessing and speaking what the first witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection had seen and heard.  This is something that Christ has given us all to do.  We are all to be disciples living in the world, being the salt of the earth and light in the darkness.

Faith isn’t about feelings.  It’s about facts.  It’s about trust.  Feelings don’t form your faith; faith is to form your feelings.  So, in faith, lay out the facts.  You have them at your fingertips.  You have the cross and the open, empty tomb.  You have the eyewitness accounts: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  You have the Scriptures, which can make people wise to salvation in Christ Jesus.

You also have the sacramental signs, the visible, tangible ways that God reveals Himself to be gracious in Jesus: Baptism, the Supper of Jesus’ Body and Blood, and the word of forgiveness.  You have the power of the Holy Spirit.  Your Baptism assures you of that.

This dying, messed-up world doesn’t need another religious opinion, mantra, method, or program.  There are too many of those already.  That’s a fact.  But we do need Jesus, who died and rose for you and your salvation.  That’s fact and faith.  Amen.




  1. David Smith says

    Just a thought. Calling Jesus’s ressurection a historical fact seems like something to be careful with. For those who believe in Christ, we accept it as fact. It is what we believe, but that argu,ment isn’t valid with someone who doesn’t already believe and had no actual proof. Believing in the resurrection comes with faith.

    Sermons around Easter