The Grilled Fish Test

There are a couple of sentences in today’s gospel (Luke 24. 35–48) I have always liked.

Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.

There is something about eating that convinces. We saw it in the Emmaus gospel of yesterday: the act of breaking bread disclosed who Jesus was to the disciples. Today he eats grilled fish to convince them that he is no mere figment of their imagination. Indeed, eating features so largely in the post-Resurrection narratives that we are clearly meant to consider its significance. It is not only an image of the abundant life of the Kingdom, it is a demonstration of the truth of the Resurrection itself and of the continuing bodyliness of Jesus.

Some scholars have argued that the Resurrection should be understood in a merely metaphorical sense, but the evangelists and the early Church believed otherwise. They affirmed the bodily resurrection of Christ in which we all share. The body of the Risen Christ is in some way different from the one with which the disciples were familiar before his death — so different that many of them had difficulty recognizing him — but it is still a body, still recognizably human, still ‘the same Jesus’.

I think that can be a great encouragement to us all. Our flesh is not something we have to try to get rid of in order to be spiritual. On the contrary, it is what we need in order to be spiritual. ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good,’ sang the psalmist. During these days of Easter that is precisely what we do.

Woman’s Hour
BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour: here is the iPlayer link to the Easter Monday programme on Women and the Christian faith. Digitalnun’s contribution is about 20/21 minutes in.