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Saturday, 12 November 2011

Day 317: Jesus appears to many

Oh sweet hope, coming in the midst of despair!
On the Emmaus road
Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-32
The disciples report to the eleven
Luke 24:33-35
Jesus appears to the rest of the disciples
1 Corinthians 15:5, Mark 16:14, Luke 24:36-43, John 20:19-25
He appears to Thomas
John 20:26-29
He appears by the Sea of Galilee
John 21:1-14
Jesus reinstates Peter
John 21:15-24
The great commission
Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:15-18, 1 Corinthians 15:6
Jesus appears to James
1 Corinthians 15:7

I love the story of the two disciples on the Emmaus road. The figure of the mysterious stranger is one that pops up again and again in literature. Strider and Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, for instance, if you like your fantasy, both hide their true identity at different times. What’s even more poignant about Luke’s account is that the moment of revelation is so brief, so fleeting, yet so certain. In the act of breaking the bread, Jesus both reveals himself and vanishes.
So much of the folklore of faith is built on this sort of foundation - there will be tiny moments of revelation, you must look for them but never expect them. You have to keep believing when for the most part, the evidence of your eyes tells you otherwise.
I only buy into this a bit.
Set against this is John’s story of Peter’s encounter with Jesus. Very different. Jesus calls him, sits him down, looks him in the eye and takes him through the agony of his betrayal. The last time he had faced someone across a fire and answered a question repeated three times, he was pretending never to have known Jesus. Now three times he acknowledges that he loves him.
Was what Peter did so bad? No, not really. But Peter thought it was. And until his mind is changed for him, he can never take his place in Jesus’ plans. I know I betray God all the time - I let him down, my feeble life is not a good recommendation for following the Messiah. But I trust that God loves me still, and forgives me, and I can try again.
So for me, it’s not about living in the darkness with the memory of the one flash of light, more about trying to let my sputtering light shine a little brighter, putting my faith in the belief that Jesus “will not quench a smouldering wick” (Matthew 12:20, quoting Isaiah 42:3)

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