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.”
– Luke 24: 37-39
Now that The Walking Dead is over – at least until the new season begins – that post-Easter time of zombie Jesus has arrived. He pops into the middle of conversations, scaring the crap out of his disciples. But not being a typical zombie, Jesus goes for a piece of fish instead of brains, which may be why nobody freaks out more than necessary.
His resurrection is simultaneously the greatest of all things in the Bible and a truly horrific thing to think about being faced with in life – replete with disciples in need of touching the wounds.
Stories of the resurrection are genuinely eerie to me. If I was in the disciples shoes and the risen Christ stood beside me after I’d watched Him die I’m not sure if I’d be fascinated and in awe or running-from-the-room terrified. Probably the latter.
The fish actually assures them he’s flesh and not a ghost, though it makes the scene no less surreal.
Most likely my brain would accept him as returned while also being in a state of utter disbelief. And I’m sure if I were them I’d have the usual doubts – that he perhaps never fully died, or that some other sleight of hand had occurred – maybe even that he was someone similar looking.
There are several instances of people not recognizing the resurrected Christ at first, which always makes me wonder if He was physically transformed or if, you know, folks thought he was dead and didn’t expect running into him. Silly people.
And aren’t they silly? They’d been told time and again that this was going to happen, but they just didn’t understand. I suppose it’s no different with me. If someone told me they were coming back from the dead I wouldn’t believe them for a minute – at least until they’d gobbled down that piece of fish.
But when I honestly consider the scene, I think the most terrifying part would be over because the most terrifying part would be that Christ would be dead and gone from us forever.
Surely his return was heart-stopping, but ultimately the greatest joy possible in his transcendence of death. Unlike the Walking Dead zombie, Jesus made sacred the profane and completed that which was prophesied.
Far from the bunnies and eggs we experience today that likely distract us from the importance of the scripture, the first Easter for the disciples was certainly a very visceral ordeal. I’m not going to suggest a zombie movie marathon to celebrate, but I think there are ways we can keep the real importance closer to ourselves.
It was the closeness of Jesus that made everything ok. It’s easy to doubt, to believe that Christ is really gone or perhaps never there at all, but it’s when we picture him in the room with us as a real fish-eating guy that we truly understand there’s nothing of which to be terrified. He is risen. He is with us.