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?
We have been talking about what amounts to a paradigm shift. Reading Psalm 23 closely like this shows us the kind of life God offers us now.
We tend to slip back into thinking that the Christian faith is about cleaning up our act, minding our tongue, or choosing to be loyal to the right side. While all of those are part of the process, none of them are the core of following Christ. The paradigm shift Psalm 23 invites us to make is to instead see God himself as the ongoing source of our life and refreshment.
Green pastures. Quiet waters. Right paths. No fear. Comfort. A banquet. Enemies at bay.
None of the above are things we do or make. All are the result of walking with God, all are things we can receive from God as we are open to him.
Yesterday’s question: How can we experience the life God promises?
Do you remember the thought experiment from a few days ago? “What next?” Turning our thoughts to Jesus as often as we can is one way to be open to what God offers. That openness allows the free flow of “quiet waters” to the deepest parts of us.
Over the next few days we will look at what kinds of things we can do to make ourselves open to what God wants to do in us. He wants to pour life into us so he can pour his love through us.
It’s a small shift that brings major benefits.
Lord, make us open to you today and always.
Right and Righteous
Compare the two translations of Psalm 23:3 below.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake. (NIV)
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake. (KJV)
What kind of paths? Right or Righteous? The answer is both.
"The ambiguity of language and context, however, allows a moral quality to creep in. If the shepherd and sheep are images of a life fully dependent and trusting on Yahweh, then 'paths of righteousness' take on the meaning of a way of life that fulfills God’s expectation for his follower. The sheep are not left to their own devices but are led by God himself to take the correct path—the one that gets the sheep where they need to go." — Gerald H. Wilson, Psalms Volume 1 (NIVAC; Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 433.
The righteous path is the right path.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13–14)
Following Jesus our shepherd is the most practical, healthful thing anyone can do. Look up and see where he is 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.