Column – Jesus Was Hungry

Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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By Charles Qualls

Over the years, I’ve heard the scripture found in Luke 24: 36-48 now and then. Possibly, many of you have, too. I’ve always been fascinated by one aspect of the little story. Possibly you have, too. 

We have this powerful moment that could start off sounding very much like the exact same story we had last week. If you only look at it on the surface. You know, the odds are that we’re not going to look at it like that. 

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No, although Jesus does come and stand in the midst of his disciples here after the Resurrection, this is not the same episode. Nor is the specific action, and therefore, the lessons we could draw are the same at all. 

But one part of this has always caught my attention. Jesus appears to have been hungry, and Luke bothers to tell us that He ate something here after he came back to life. 

My fuller title today quotes from the text and says “While they rejoiced, Jesus was hungry.” You know what? Turns out, that probably wasn’t the case at all. So why did he eat? Why does it even matter? This is what captured my attention, though I never could quite put my finger on why. 

What I found might be the heart of this week’s message because it does matter. You see, much of what ensues in this week’s scripture was Jesus actively trying to prove that he wasn’t a ghost. 

Because if he were a ghost, it would also mean he was dead. The apostle Paul, among others, points out that this would void our entire faith. Now you see where we’re headed?

Mark Hoffman gives us some helpful insight in his writing on today’s scripture. Here are some examples of what some people of Jesus’ time believed could prove definitively that one was a living being and not a ghost.

One could check extremities where bones were evident, namely, hands and feet. Or make sure that a person’s feet are touching the ground. One could show their teeth because ghosts wouldn’t have teeth. To an extreme, eating food would be viewed as ultimate proof since a spirit wouldn’t eat.   

That’s right. In our scripture right here before us, Jesus was actually clicking nearly all of the known boxes in his part of the ancient world that would prove one to be a living human being to someone who was convinced that they were seeing, instead, a haunting. Luke is laboring here with these details because he substantiates a case where Jesus was bodily resurrected. 

In a world that had zero acquaintance with a person coming back to life, Jesus was alive. Luke wants us to know that.

Now, that’s all fascinating. It helps me understand a little better why these specific details were given. But then something else happens. Something is spoken here that runs chills up my spine.

More significant than his hands and feet or his supposed hunger is Jesus’ theophanic statement in Greek. Jesus said, “Ego eimi.” In English, we know that as “I am myself” or simply “I Am.”  

He was saying the same thing Moses was told by God the Father in Exodus 3 to respond when the Pharaoh asked on whose authority the Children of Israel should be let go. 

Here is where attention to Scripture is important. Scriptural fulfillment may be interesting and informative and may help confirm what we believe about Jesus. 

What is more significant, however, is how the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus help us understand what God has been accomplishing throughout all human history. In the victory of Jesus, the reality of God’s plan is revealed.

You see, Jesus’ life does not simply help us comprehend ancient Scripture’s true meaning. It also moves us forward into the future. 

That’s why Jesus concludes here with the charge to his disciples to be witnesses, proclaiming repentance and forgiveness to all nations in his name.

Jesus ate fish to prove he was alive. Now, he wasn’t empty. His calling upon his disciples’ lives, including upon ours, likewise leads us toward being more alive. 

Jesus did all this in Luke 24 to show us that he had defeated death, sure. But also to reveal what God was doing in our world. To show us that there was still ministry and mission left for all of us to do. Jesus did all this to show us what life was like after the Resurrection.