A Buddhist monk once told me that he found Christianity to be an effective religion and could agree with many of its teachings. But then he said that he has a big problem with one of the teachings of Christianity. When I asked him what that was he said the teaching of the resurrection. How could you believe that a dead man was raised to life and that he lives forever?
I told that monk that the resurrection is not a teaching or a doctrine in the Christian church, it is a living reality. It is the very foundation of the Christian church.
That monk, though a disciple of Jesus, is not alone in facing the problem of the resurrection. It is very human to have this problem because it is not something that has happened to human beings. It is something very hard to imagine and comprehend. We read in the Bible how the faith of Thomas was strengthened by seeing the risen Jesus. He made this strong statement of faith: “My Lord and my God”. Up to that point, Christians called Jesus 'Lord' but not 'God'.
In the Bible, we read that when Jesus was resurrected from the dead he was able to enter a closed room. He was not a ghost because he had a body. For instance, he could eat, as he did with his disciples. But his body was different from our bodies. He had a glorified body, which would never die again. When he was resurrected he was not subject to death.
The Bible clearly shows how this risen Jesus transformed those who became his Church. This Jesus gave us the courage and the assurance that life is more powerful than death. No worldly power could control or defeat Jesus.
We see how his disciples obtained this assurance after his resurrection. According to John's gospel, when the disciples were in a closed room Jesus came into the room and said “ Peace be with you” Then he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit". Here we are reminded how God created mankind out of dust and breathed the breath of life into their nostrils to make them living beings. This Jesus breathing the breath of life on his disciples made them live once again. Because after the death of Jesus, although physically they were alive, morally they were dead.
In Luke’s gospel, we are given the story of how the resurrected Jesus met two people as a stranger. According to this story, when two men were walking to Emmaus they met a stranger who started to walk and talk with them. They did not recognize him. But he was with them throughout the whole day. At times they did not recognize him but when at last he broke bread at the Eucharist they were able to recognize him.
This gave them the realization that all human beings are created in the image of God and have the capacity to reflect the resurrected Jesus. This realization made the early Christians accept anyone into their fellowship irrespective of class, code, or ethnicity.
This is very clear in the story of the conversion of Saul, later known as Paul. His conversion took place on the road to Damascus as he was going to arrest Christians and persecute them. But the resurrected Jesus appeared to him and told Saul that by his actions he had been persecuting Jesus himself.
Today do we see the risen Jesus in other people? Especially people who have been persecuted? I am sure the day we acknowledge this is the day of our conversion. This gives new hope, through the risen Jesus, to the whole world.
Therefore as we break bread let us try to recognize the resurrected Jesus who has come to us as strangers.