A reality check: 31 March

The painting, by Caravaggio, depicts the moment when the resurrected but incognito Jesus, reveals himself to two of his disciples (presumed to be Luke and Cleopas). Cleopas gesticulates in a perspectively-challenging extension of arms. The standing groom, face in darkness, appears oblivious to the event. The table lays out a still-life meal. Like the world these apostles knew, the basket of food teeters perilously over the edge.

Luke 24 39 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.’ 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

Col 3 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

A heresy developed within the early church called docetism (based on the Greek word dokeo, “to seem”). This heresy taught that Jesus was not really a person but only looked like one. Some said that Jesus was a real person in life, but that after the Resurrection he was only an apparition.

The easiest way for Jesus to prove he wasn’t a ghost was to ask for a piece of fish. This was proof to all of them that the Resurrection was real. But the best way to prove that Jesus is still real is not to argue that he once ate solid food. The best argument for you and me today is that he is still touching and redeeming all life, beginning with our own.

If we try to dismiss Christ as a man, he haunts us as an idea. If we try to dismiss him as an idea, he haunts us as a man. When we try to live without Jesus, life becomes so empty and purposeless that we know we must hold him if life is ever to make sense again. Doubt him for very long, and we will find his reality where we have always found it – in our hearts.

Lord, because of your living presence in my life, may your reality go unquestioned among my friends. Help them to look at me and clearly see that you are the most real thing there is about me.