Jesus ain’t no ghost. He’s the walking, talking, living Lord of your real life, right now, and he’s hungry. Listen:
3rd Sunday of Easter (Year B) – April 19, 2015 – Luke 24:36b-48
St. Jacob’s-Spaders Lutheran Church, Harrisonburg, Virginia
“Hungry Jesus” – Pastor Evan Davis
My mind is already at the beach. Yes, after Pentecost, May 24, Brett and I are headed to Topsail Island for a week and I can’t wait for the heat of the sun to radiate down on my properly-sunscreened face, to wake to the sound of the waves crashing, and for the taste of the salt in the air. Yes, I’m ready for summer: ready to plant the garden, build a fence, fire up the grill, and even to go to Synod Assembly in June. The Easter lilies are fading. We’ve been eating Easter ham for two weeks and we are really done with it. I’m not hungry for it anymore. The Easter hunger for God’s work to continue, to carry forward the victory of God fades back into a status quo in which I am neither hungry nor satisfied.
And with Easter already so far back in the dust, the Resurrection which felt so real two weeks ago already has begun to fade back into the background of my life. Maybe it’s the same for you. It’s so tempting this week, which has brought us tax day, to believe that the only true realities in life are taxes…and death. Death and taxes. Easter is over and again we’re back in the trenches where we fall for the lie that Good Friday is the end of the story – where cancer takes our loved ones in what seems like a heartbeat, or in other cases, in an excruciatingly slow but steady decline. Easter is over and we’re back in a world where every headline brings news of hopelessness and hatred in the Holy Land, in Iraq, which was the home of Abraham, and in Syria, where Paul spread the gospel. Easter is over and it’s so easy to fall back into the cynicism that things will never get better…that my neighbor will always be begging for change on Court Square, that the government will never get anything done, that blacks and whites, not to mention everybody else, will never really be integrated and equal. Easter is over and maybe we’re not hungry anymore…maybe we’re satisfied for church to be just a warm blanket of nostalgia and familiarity to keep us safe and reasonably happy in a world spinning out of control.
Easter is over and it’s easy to imagine the risen Christ is a ghost – just some wispy, airy phantom, haunting us from a distance…at best, an eternal life insurance policy, a ticket to some heaven so far away from what feels like hell here on earth. Maybe that’s what the disciples thought, as they were pondering the frightful stories from the women at the tomb, and from two men, talking about how Jesus appeared out of thin air on the road to Emmaus.
But it’s the same, real Jesus, risen from the dead, who in the next scene comes to his fearful people to say, “Peace be with you.” He asks, “why are you frightened? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Yet even after this, even in their joy at seeing him, “they were (still) disbelieving and…wondering.” Jesus interrupts their doubt and spiritual confusion with a decidedly practical question, “Have you anything here to eat?” Jesus is hungry. You know it’s when you’re hungry again that they let you out of the hospital. Jesus is up and out of the rocky bed where he fell asleep for but a moment, he’s broken his three-day prison, he’s arisen, and now it’s time to eat!
Jesus is hungry…hungry to open the minds of his disciples to understand the scriptures – to understand they are about him! Jesus is hungry for them, so filled with the gospel, to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Jesus is hungry for his sisters and brothers, the Church, to leave their locked rooms and go back into the world, back into this life, into a world where dead people don’t always stay dead anymore – where all the dead will one day rise with him.
Jesus ain’t no ghost. He doesn’t live in some wispy world as merely the answer to our longings for more time, as if one life is not enough.1 The Father raises the Son not to take him out of this world, but to put him back in it. Not to abandon God’s good creation, but to fulfill it. Jesus ain’t no ghost, he’s the walking, talking living Lord of your real life, right now, and he’s hungry. Jesus is hungry to resurrect this world from its death at the hands of human hatred and neglect. Get ready, because Jesus is coming to a dinner table near you.
Jesus is hungry for us to repent of our apathy, of the ease with which we fall back into cynicism and despair, and forget that Easter goes on not just for 7 Sundays, but that Easter is our new reality, now and always. He’s hungry for us to repent of the greed and fear that starve us of compassion, that rob us of the hunger for the poor to be fed and clothed, for the earth to be saved from our carelessness and destruction, for all God’s children to live in peace.
And Jesus is starving to forgive us all these sins, things done and left undone, the sins we can name and the ones known only to him. Friends, the good news is that the feast of forgiveness is already spread before us.
Are you hungry?
The good news is that Jesus is alive and he’s on a mission, he’s hungry for us to change the world, to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name every Sunday, every day, in what we do and what we say.
Are you hungry?
The good news is that the resurrection is true and that means everything you do every day matters, no matter how small it seems, because nothing of God, nothing truly good, is coming to an end. God will bring it all to completion, from the Malaria Campaign to the food bank, from a dream of a new building open for the community to the dream of all of us being able to name the name of Jesus in our own lives, from the Resurrection of Jesus to the Resurrection of all, when we will be like him, for we will see him as he is, our hungry God will not stop until it’s all as good as it was when he made it in the first place.
Are you hungry?
Good, because we’re not spectators in Christ’s Resurrection Life. We’re not waiting for a one-way ticket out of here. No, we’re the main characters in a new story of redemption and restoration, and God is hungry for you to know his love, to name it in your own story, to share it, and to live it. Because from now on, every day is Easter, world without end.
Are you hungry for that?
Well, very good. This is the feast of victory for our God. Alleluia! Amen.
1Chris Heavner, Faith Lens Bible Study, http://www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/FaithLens/291 (accessed April 17, 2015).