Summary: A message thinking about life, death, resurrection & ghosts because that lie the devil has used about Jesus not being really alive but just a ghost must be dispatched back to hell.
Perhaps because we hear this Easter story so often we loose some of the power. We loose something of the sense of how fantastic & ridiculous an idea this truly is - Jesus dead now alive. How can that be because dead people stay dead, we all know that to be true don’t we?
The disciples were devastated because Jesus was dead & with Him went their ideals & their hopes & dreams. The whole of their future is now uncertain to say the least, so it is not surprising to find them tying to make sense of the women’s story of the resurrection all locked away confused & frightened. Who wouldn’t be?
I am sure that some of the voices that day were talking about how they were grasping at straws in the troughs of despair & grief. Dead men don’t talk & walk, how can they? Then into that charged tear filled grief laden atmosphere comes Jesus. But the big question sitting there like the proverbial elephant in the room is what is He?
Of course this is not the first or last appearance story, but for our day & age I think it could just be one of the most important. In the Message Luke 24:37 reads’ they thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death.’
Today we are thinking about life, death, resurrection & ghosts because that lie the devil has used about Jesus not being really alive but just a ghost must be dispatched back to hell.
Ghosts are part of our way of life. You ask out there on streets what people believe. & I think you will find that more seem to believe in ghosts while denying Jesus. Indeed in my experience you ask in some Churches & you will maybe be surprised at how many believe in ghosts.
And why wouldn’t they? All over the media ghosts make big news, from film’s like ‘Ghost’ or ‘Sixth Sense’ which may have been seen by many of us. Our grandchildren will have seen things like ‘Casper’ or the Harry Potter films which contain many ghost references. Then there are the awful shows like ‘Most haunted’ where people (inexplicably always in the dark) jump & scream at creaking doors & ghostly apparitions, yet despite camera & more equipment than you can shake a stick at they never seem to find a single one.
Then there are the adverts in many of our local newspapers every week from Spiritualists purporting to be Church.
During my ministry I have had many people talk about mediums or ghosts. In one particular funeral years ago there was a medium in the extended family who had caused great distress, & in another situation I worked with people who though they had been faithful Church members for decade upon decade still believed in ghosts & actually thought spiritualism could be practiced alongside Christianity.
Such things are in my experience not unusual but always deeply dangerous.
Dangerous because such things distort the truth of life & death & steal away the power from the gospel. In the Christian faith ghosts are not acceptable; they do not exist. Indeed how can they? There is life & death & heaven & hell. The scripture knows nothing of a middle ground.
Yet the disciples too thought Jesus was just a ghost. The Greek word used here is πνεῦμα - pneuma -noo’-mah – which means a current of air or a breeze. They thought Jesus must be either a vision or a ghost, because how can He have a real body?
So they must have had a working knowledge of ghosts in their culture too, but Jesus here sets out to blow that possibility, that misconception out of the water.
Luke 24:38-43 from the Message again says ’He continued with them, "Don’t be upset, & don’t let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet--it’s really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn’t have muscle and bone like this. As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. They still couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true. He asked, "Do you have any food here? They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked. He took it and ate it right before their eyes.’
They saw Him, heard Him, touched Him & watched Him eat. In these things it was impossible for them to have been deceived because the gospels leave no room for a visionary ghostly presence. Jesus is bodily alive. Believe it or don’t believe it, but don’t try to justify your unbelief by suggesting the disciples only saw a ghost.