They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:37-39
Minutes ago, the disciples were sharing the wonderful news that they had seen the risen Christ. The women’s report was proved true, Jesus was alive! And then Jesus appears among them and they are “startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost” (v. 37). They know the reality of the situation- Jesus is alive. They have been telling each other the reality of the situation. But clearly, by their reaction when they actually see Jesus, they don’t fully understand or believe the reality of the situation. What holds them back? They are startled and frightened by a sudden appearance. Jesus’ resurrection is certainly not what they were expecting and they are probably still wrapping their minds around what that means. But regardless, in this moment they hold back from fully embracing the full implications of who Jesus is and what he has done.
Jesus clearly knows their doubts and hesitation. In his grace, he gives them physical signs- like seeing his wounds in his hands and eating fish- to help them understand and fully believe. One of the most famous examples of this is Jesus’ interaction with Thomas in John 20:24-29. Thomas is apparently not present during Jesus’ appearance in Luke 24 and therefore tells the other disciples “unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (v. 25). Of course, Jesus gives him that very opportunity and Thomas believes, declaring “my Lord and my God!” (v. 28).
Unlike Thomas, we don’t have the ability to see Jesus’ scars with our own eyes, at least on this side of eternity. Yet Jesus still says, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (v. 29). We are the ones that Jesus calls blessed! Today, let your soul rest in the knowledge of Jesus’ blessing. If your faith feels weak today, like believing is a struggle, tell Jesus about it. Ask him to hold and strengthen you today.
By Jessica Rust