What do you think Jesus was up to when twice on resurrection day he used food to show himself to be risen and real?
He had walked the seven miles with Cleopas and his companion to Emmaus, concealing his identity along the way, and then revealed himself as they sat to eat.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. (Luke 24:30–31)
Why not while they were walking along?
Later that same day, after the two had gone all the way back to Jerusalem to report what they had seen, Jesus appeared to the eleven remaining disciples and others gathered with them. After having startled them by his sudden appearance, Jesus reassured them that he was risen.
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. (Luke 24:40–43)
How ordinary is that?
It’s both ordinary and extraordinary, isn’t it? Extraordinary — unique even — that someone should rise from the dead. Ordinary that a live person would want something to eat.
And of course food is so often more than just nourishment, and more than pleasurable taste. Food brings us together. Table fellowship in Emmaus and in Jerusalem begins to set the new normal.
When you eat today, ponder this: How close is Jesus? How normal to the rhythm of your day, your work? As normal as food?
For weeks now, we have been giving Psalm 23 a close reading. We find similar themes of security and peace in Philippians 4:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4–7)
Peace and rejoicing! Rejoicing can come as a response to positive circumstances, and it can come as a response to a command.
Really? We are commanded (exhorted) to be joyful? Really. And we can do it. Here’s how.
Paul gives us reason enough to rejoice: God is near. Think: The LORD is my shepherd. I lack nothing.
God himself is enough. When we don’t feel like God is enough, there is simple action we can take: "present our requests to God.” He is near, he hears, he invites our prayers, he can handle our anxiety.
We pray, and God guards our hearts and minds. He guards our emotions, our hopes, and our habits of thinking.
The Message paraphrase:
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6–7)
Letting God in our anxieties shapes not only our emotions, but our thinking. When we let him guard our heart, we become able to think more clearly and — importantly — more kindly. God’s care puts us on firm ground, making it possible to love of neighbor, coworker, and family member. Even the difficult ones. Kindness to the unloveable.
Anxiety begins to drain away; love begins to flow.
Peace within; peace without.
Lord, I give you my anxious thoughts today. Calm my anxious heart, that I may love like you love. Amen.
Yesterday in worship we spent time again in Psalm 23.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23:6)
David is certain the LORD’s love and care will accompany him, and even pursue him. How long? All the days of his life. Now and forever. He will enjoy the benefits of the LORD’s presence daily, without end.
Does David have this assurance because David is special? No, but because God is special: merciful, gracious, loving, faithful to his people.
David’s knowledge, however, is not just intellectual. David has experienced God’s care, and remembers it. He takes the time to remember it, even rehearse it to himself. That’s what Psalm 23 is: a remembering of God’s goodness. David's confidence in God is in proportion to his experience and memory of God’s care. He remembers and rejoices!
What will you remember from today? What do you want to remember from today? How will you remind yourself that God is good? Tomorrow will be better if you remember God’s goodness today.
Pastor Mark loves his wife and grown children, the Word of God, and words. And coffee, chocolate chip cookies, Apple products, small video projects, and the New England Patriots.