April 30

John 21:1-14

“Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. “ vs. 4

Sometimes even followers of Jesus have trouble with the resurrection because they have been taught by well-meaning preachers and teachers that when Jesus was resurrected he was reanimated, i.e. he got back the same body he had before he died. But that’s not the testimony of scripture. In every post-resurrection account of Jesus’ appearances, his closest followers at first fail to recognize him–and he’s no longer bound by his physicality. He is changed, transformed, transfigured–in a word he’s been resurrected! As Paul put it in his letter to the Corinthians, the resurrected Jesus had a spiritual body! Now some might react to that interpretation by saying that what the disciples experienced was only the spiritual presence of Jesus, that he wasn’t really there. The 21st chapter of John’s gospel was added to combat that notion. The story is clear in saying that for the disciples this spiritual appearance of Jesus was as real as real could be. And as they broke bread and ate fish around the fire they were convinced of his resurrection. Ever since then, whenever bread is broken in Holy Communion and believers are fed they are convinced anew that his presence is real, and the experience has given fuel to their mission together. Let no one ever say that the resurrection of Jesus was only spiritual when that reality is the most powerful hopeful force the universe has ever known!

Thought for the Day: What’s the difference between spiritual presence and real presence?

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