Today we consider the text of Luke 24:36-42, where Jesus appears to the disciples and eats a fish to proove to the disciples that they are not seeing a ghost.
While they were speaking these things, he himself stood in the middle of them and said to them “Peace to you.” They were starteled and became frightened—thinking they were seeing a spirit. Jesus said to them, What troubles you, and why are doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet, that you may see that I am he. Touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you can see that I have. Having said this, he showed them his hands and and feet. But they were still not believing, because of their joy and amazement—Jesus said to them, “What do you have here to eat?” They gave Jesus a piece of cooked fish, taking it, he ate it in front of them.
Ταῦτα δὲ αὐτῶν λαλούντων αὐτὸς ἔστη ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· εἰρήνη ὑμῖν. πτοηθέντες δὲ καὶ ἔμφοβοι γενόμενοι ἐδόκουν πνεῦμα θεωρεῖν. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τί τεταραγμένοι ἐστὲ καὶ ⸂διὰ τί⸃ διαλογισμοὶ ἀναβαίνουσιν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν; ἴδετε τὰς χεῖράς μου καὶ τοὺς πόδας μου ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι αὐτός· ψηλαφήσατέ με καὶ ἴδετε, ὅτι πνεῦμα σάρκα καὶ ὀστέα οὐκ ἔχει καθὼς ἐμὲ θεωρεῖτε ἔχοντα. καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἔδειξεν αὐτοῖς τὰς χεῖρας καὶ τοὺς πόδας. ἔτι δὲ ἀπιστούντων αὐτῶν ἀπὸ τῆς χαρᾶς καὶ θαυμαζόντων εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἔχετέ τι βρώσιμον ἐνθάδε;οἱ δὲ ἐπέδωκαν αὐτῷ ἰχθύος ὀπτοῦ μέρος· καὶ λαβὼν ἐνώπιον αὐτῶν ἔφαγεν.
Once one becomes familiar with the debate and scholarly opinion regarding gnosticism in the time of the early church, this passage takes the form of a convenient rebuke against any forms of gnosticism. In fact, in light of the debate, this text almost seems conveniently placed to reject any form of early gnosticism. Doubtless there are more than a few that would even attempt to suggest this text has been inserted or crafted by the early church in response to gnosticism. However, this is pure conjecture, although convenient, this text could just as easily be included simply to narrate the facts surrounding the events that occurred when Jesus returned. Personally I am a little frustrated that the gnosticism debate would be the first thoughts regarding this passage that spring to mind. Yes it is important that we understand the religious context of the early church, but just how important is this debate for a Christian?
This passage is important for several Christian doctrines. Yes, its true, Jesus was not resurrected in the form of a ghost, but a physical being, who could be touched, who could eat, and one must assume, therefore, had all of the bodily functions associated with eating. God's creation, physical matter, and the human body, can not therefore be considered somehow inherently corrupt or sinful, there was no mission or desire to ‘escape from the flesh’ so to speak. There is no basis for a Christian to assume that our ultimate destiny is to live as ghost's floating in the clouds.