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Luke 24:44-53

You gotta move it slowly,

Take and eat my body like it’s holy.

I’ve been waiting for you for the whole week,

I’ve been praying for you, you’re my Sunday candy.

-”Sunday Candy,” Chance The Rapper

In the Gospel of Luke Jesus only appears to the disciples twice after the resurrection. Both of those appearances are in Luke 24 and both of those post-resurrection appearances are thick with Eucharistic imagery. The first appearance is set on the road to Emmaus; the second in Jerusalem. While the settings may differ the similarities between the two appearances are strong.

Both stories begin with the disciples having difficulty understanding the events that had just happened. In the two stories, Jesus appeared to people but they did not recognize him as the risen Jesus (vv. 16, 37). In both appearances Jesus scolded them for their doubts (vv. 25, 38) while reassuring them that God was at work to fulfill His purposes. Finally, both stories tell of food shared with Jesus, followed by awe and joy (vv. 32, 34, 41).

The structural similarities appear to be intentional. It’s like Luke structures his telling of the story in this way in order to clue us as the readers to his concerns. While a reading of this passage raises many – confusion about the resurrected Jesus, how does Judaism relate to emerging Christianity, and others – this reflection will focus on the issue that seems most central to my reading: the mission of the followers of Jesus in the absence of Jesus.

The lectionary reading begins with Jesus saying to his disciples that “everything must be fulfilled.” Fulfillment, for Luke, is a major theme. The beginning of his gospel dedicates a good chunk of time connecting the births of John and Jesus with the Old Testament. It appears that Luke wants to make clear to his readers that the God who was at work in the Old Testament is the same God at work in these events. Fast forward to the end of his gospel and the message remains: the continuity between the law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms and the risen Jesus.

Fulfillment, for Luke, means that while the resurrection of Jesus is new and while the message may appear to be new, it is completely consistent with what the Old Testament says about God. Therefore Jesus is the embodiment of the God to whom the Old Testament points and the God that the disciples had been anticipating. Luke goes out of his way to help us as the reader understand.<