It’s the beginning of December, and I’m about 30 days into my 2019 Bible reading plan. Yes, you read that right. It’s December 2018, but unfortunately I know myself well enough to know that 365 days is not enough time for me to complete this reading plan. I’ve tried starting on January 1 in the past, but that always ended in disaster as I missed days and fell behind. Usually, by mid-February, I felt like such a loser while I was in the middle of getting through Leviticus, I just gave up. So this year, I’m taking a different approach. I’m getting out in front of it, so maybe this annual travesty doesn’t happen until mid-July or August, if I’m lucky.
With that being said, I just completed the book of Luke, which is a pretty wild account of Jesus’ life and ministry, and well worth the read. At times I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride, and I’m sure the disciples felt the same. In one chapter, I’m reading along saying, “Amen to that!”, and the next day I’m thinking, “What was that?” At one point, halfway through chapter 22, Jesus is in the middle of instituting the Lord’s Supper, the sacrament of eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of Him, and at the very end, He drops a bomb by letting them know that one of them sitting at the table would betray Him.
This must have been odd for the disciples because, for one, Jesus had not suffered and died yet. So what was He talking about? It is clear four chapters earlier that they were utterly clueless, as Jesus told them a third time what would happen to him, and Luke says “they understood none of these things.” It’s like they were sitting in the back of the classroom shooting spit-wads at one another. And two, why would one of them betray Him. They had followed Him for three years through some pretty crazy moments, and they were still with Him.
Now, one would think the conversation would focus on the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, trying to figure out what Jesus meant, or maybe which one among them would betray Jesus, but that is not the case. After a few questions about who it could be among them who would betray Jesus, the conversation quickly turned into an argument in which they debated which among them would be the greatest! How does that happen? And how did Jesus not lose it watching these men debate their greatness in the midst of God in the flesh? His calm response in verses 25-27 is what all parents should emulate when their kids start thinking the world revolves around them.
So then, later that night, Jesus does arguably the most incredible act of service in the history of mankind, willingly allowing the spiritual and political leaders to take Him into custody, falsely accuse and convict him, beat him to within an inch of His life, and then allow the Romans to hang Him on a cross. Jesus is buried, and then three days later He resurrects from the dead, while His followers are huddled together hiding in a small room, away from everyone. After appearing to two guys walking on the road to Emmaus, Jesus appears to His disciples in this upper room in the middle of chapter 24, and, in my opinion, does the coolest thing ever.
No, I’m not talking about when He showed them his hands and his feet and his side with the scars from the piercing nails and sword. That must have been pretty cool to witness, no doubt, and the text says the disciples “still disbelieved for joy and were marveling” at what they were seeing. While everyone is trying to figure out what is taking place, Jesus leans back (I imagine) and says, “Hey, you guys got anything to eat?” I can see the site now, like something straight out of the Fonz’s repertoire. “Hey-eeee.” The leader of the pack returns to amaze his crew, then sits back watching His guys in disbelief at what He had done, and then He asks for something to eat. That’s such a boss move.
Many commentators say His request for food and His subsequent downing of a broiled fish was to prove He had physically risen. And that’s probably true, but I’d like to think Jesus, having gone through what He had completed, the victory He had won, was so relaxed, cool and confident of what was to come, He just wanted a bite to eat. I’d like to think it was at this moment that the disciples went from being cowards, afraid for their lives, to being courageous and willing to give up their lives for the sake of spreading the word about the risen Messiah. I’d like to think this was the moment when they knew without a doubt that Jesus was God in the flesh, and they had nothing to fear. I’d like to think this was the start of the movement that changed the world. It is with this confidence that we, His disciples in 2018, continue the movement today, as my church says it, in order to be living proof of a loving God to a watching world.