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God’s Word for You

Luke 24:41-43 He took it and ate it

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, July 12, 2019

41 They were still stunned in disbelief because of their joy. As they wondered, Jesus said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish and some honey from a honeycomb.  43 He took it and ate it in front of them.

Not all of the manuscripts have “and some honey from a honeycomb.” The earliest witness to this phrase in the text is Justin Martyr, who was born about 65 years after Jesus’ resurrection and who died in 166 AD. Such an early witness, who lived his entire life in Palestine (Samaria), should not be easily dismissed.

Another proof of the Lord’s physical resurrection was his request for something to eat. A spirit does not need to eat but may, if he wishes; a human with a physical body can and must eat. This should settle our doubts as to whether we will eat in heaven, but those who doubt can be pleasantly surprised in heaven, where I, for one, will be happy once again to taste my mom’s apple pie. I will admit that we will not be identical to Christ in heaven. For one thing, we will be “like the angels” in the sense that we will no longer be able to die, nor will we have marriages or sexual unions. But there is no mention of the giving up of other human pleasures. For example, will we be forbidden to touch? The angels can touch and make contact (Acts 12:7). To smell? The Lord can smell a pleasing scent (Genesis 8:21); would he withhold that from us? To laugh or feel delight? What else does Matthew mean when he describes the angel’s words, ‘Now I have told you,’ at the tomb? (Matthew 28:7). To sing? The angels in heaven sing (Revelation 5:13).

Yet to be “like the angels” (Luke 20:35-36) does not preclude the possibility that we might eat, since not only God but the angels with him ate the meal set before them by Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 18:6-9), and the angels ate once again in Sodom when Lot pressed them to a meal (Genesis 19:3). But all this is a digression. The real points Luke makes by showing us that the risen Lord Jesus ate fish (and honey?) are, first, that he was truly present among them. While it is proven from Moses that angels can eat, there is no angel, spirit or demon who consumes food of any kind in a vision. Jesus’ meal proved that they were not seeing a vision. They were seeing the risen Lord. Like every detail Luke includes in his book, this action is present “so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:4).

Second, as we remember that this was the risen Lord Jesus who ate, we see a fulfillment of the Proverb: “The righteous eat to their hearts’ content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry” (Proverbs 13:25), and also, “Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste” (Proverbs 24:13). These proverbs were written about the living and not the dead. In addition, they proclaim that eating food is a good thing, worthy of the righteous after a hard day’s work. So Christ’s meal was also a reminder that his work of the Sacrifice was good and acceptable to the Father.

Finally, to return to our digression, doesn’t even the great poet Asaph call manna “the bread of angels” (Psalm 78:24-25)? Perhaps in this act of giving his apostles a glimpse of his true presence, he also gave to us a glimpse of life in heaven. For that to be a certainty, we will have to wait and see. For the present, we bask in the glory of the best gospel news: Jesus is risen!

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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