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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, July 24, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 24:36–53

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God. (NRSV)

“Lord, help me in my unbelief.” It’s a prayer I say often. Therefore I consider this passage to be reassuring. The disciples, the people who traveled with Jesus, heard his teaching, and saw him perform miracles firsthand, had their moments of unbelief.

The disciples first falsely assume that Jesus is a ghost, because they can’t comprehend the idea of resurrection. But Jesus shows up, explains for the umpteenth time (and I imagine with a heavy eye roll), that just as the prophets foretold, “the Messiah is to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.” God understands our unbelief. They needed Jesus to appear to them, show them his flesh, eat with them, and even after all of that, Jesus had to open their minds to understand the scriptures.

I appreciate the reminder that there are things in this world that my limited human brain is incapable of understanding. I appreciate the reminder that, even though the disciples were fearful and doubted, Jesus still uses them to build his church.

Lord, help me in my times of doubt and unbelief. Give me the strength to accept that there are some things I cannot understand. Be patient with me as I question the things you have told me before. Amen.

Written by Katie Patterson, Director of Urban Youth Mission

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