Have You Anything Here To Eat?
July 29, 2012
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 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.”
And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
Note: Four times a year there are five Sundays in a month. When one of these Fifth Sundays rolls around, Rev. Buteux’s congregation meets for a brief worship service and then goes out into the community to perform acts of service. Below is the short meditation from one of their worship times together.
I’d like to share two stories for you this morning:
The first involves my brother-in law Will, a minister in New York, who recently returned from a trip to Ghana. He was over there with a few members of his church, exploring how they might partner with the King Jesus Charity Home, an orphanage that houses about 200 children. While he was there, he spent a lot of time talking with the kids themselves. He asked them what their favorite part of living at the home was, and they said that at the home they had finally found a family. That was what they most valued. The kids there think of each other as their brothers and sisters. The older ones take care of the younger ones. In fact, many of them spoke of their plans to grow up, get an education, and come back to live, work, and support the orphanage because for them it truly is their home.
He then asked them what the hardest part was, and they said, “Not having enough food.” Will told me that these kids sometimes go for two or three days without enough to eat, and when that happens, it is the teenagers who go without. They fast and pray during meals so that the littlest ones can eat. What struck Will as he talked to them was the fact that the teenagers do this willingly and with great love in their hearts for the young ones. They don’t like going hungry, but they take great pride in caring for one another so well.
My second story involves my other brother-in-law, Sean, who told me that, on the way up to see us on Easter Sunday, he and my sister had stopped at a McDonald’s, where they saw two teenage boys sitting at a table. The boys had a bet going to see if one of them could eat twenty McDouble cheeseburgers. As they were leaving, Sean could see that the kid who’d made the bet still had at least five to go and wasn’t looking so good. His friend, on the other hand, was laughing and saying, “All you have to say is, ‘I quit, man,’ and this will all be over.”
I’m not sharing these two stories with you in order to say that the first kids are good and the second kids are bad. They’re all just kids! I’m sharing these stories side by side as a way of highlighting the absurdity of the world we live in: a world of hunger and excess, deprivation and waste—a world where people are dying every day, some from eating too much, others from eating too little. It isn’t fair, and it isn’t pretty. But it is real. Everywhere you look, it is real, because hunger is real.
Hunger is part and parcel of what it is to be human. No matter how much you eat at any given time, in any one sitting, you will invariably be hungry again. No matter how good you get at fasting and prayer, at letting go of the material and embracing the spiritual, you will be hungry again.
Because hunger is a fact of life. Hunger is a law of nature. Hunger is part and parcel of what it is to be human.
That is, no doubt, why Luke felt the need to include this strange story of Jesus’ resurrection appearance, the one where he shows up and asks—while the disciples are busy inspecting the nail holes in his hands and his feet—if anybody brought snacks. “Have you anything here to eat?” he asks, and they bring him some broiled fish.
I love that detail in this story because it is there to impress upon us that this Jesus is no ghost. He is real. He is risen. He is embodied. Our Jesus is still a man, and as such, he is hungry, because hunger is indeed part and parcel of what it is to be human.
“Have you anything here to eat?” asks Jesus.
“But, knowing Jesus,” says Martin Copenhaver, “the follow-up question is this: ‘Does your neighbor have anything to eat?’ After all, this is the same Jesus who taught us to pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Not my daily bread, our daily bread” (Stillspeaking Devotional, April 10, 2012).
This is the same Jesus who told us that when we give food to the hungry and water to the thirsty, we are taking care of no less a one than him.
“Have you anything here to eat?”
It is such a simple, mundane, prosaic sort of question for the risen Messiah to ask, but it was foremost on his mind back then—and I do believe that it is foremost on his mind even now, because the sad truth, if Jesus is to be believed, is that he is still asking it, every day, all over the world, even here in this valley.
“Have you anything here to eat?”
Friends, as long as there is one person on this earth still asking, then so is our Savior.
So thank you for being here this morning, for responding to the question, for responding to his call. Jesus said, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” I know you do, and I know you will. Thanks be to God. Amen.
You, O Christ, are the table set for all,
The inextinguishable light of the saints;
The sun shining in our midst,
And you are joy and grace to your people.
- Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022)
Lord, when the suffering look to me, may I see your eyes. When the poor ask for comfort, may I see your face. When the hungry cry out, may I hear your voice, that one day I may hear you say, “As you did it to one of these, you did it unto me.” Amen.
- Frank Topping
Rev. Sarah Buteux