JOY Blog

Simple Questions and Powerful Words
April 23, 2016By Royann Bold

Shalom Bearers by Wiliam Murphy on Flickr

I just completed another gratifying Bible study on the Gospel of Luke. Luke was a physician and a close friend of the apostle Paul.  His writings chronicle Jesus Christ’s birth, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension. 

My Bible study is taught by a wise, patient woman whose sense of humor livens up the class when we delve into some deep scripture passages.  We wonder out loud, interrupting her with distracting questions like…”who was the other person with Cleopas on the road to Emmaus?”...and … “who was this guy Cleopas anyway???”   But she’s patient with all our questions. What I particularly love is that even after 35 plus years of teaching Bible studies, she admits that there are still questions she doesn’t have the answers for. It gives me comfort knowing there is always more to learn and that I should never feel silly for asking.

Last week, we finished the final chapter, Luke 24.  In this chapter, Cleopas and another (unnamed) were walking toward Emmaus when they meet a man (Jesus, newly risen). They were kept from recognizing Jesus, even while they discussed with him their sadness over the recent events of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Over dinner with Jesus, their eyes were opened and they finally recognized him. Jesus then disappears, and the two are filled with astonishment.  They asked each other “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32  

After this encounter on the road to Emmaus, Jesus appears to the eleven disciples in Jerusalem and greets them with the phrase: “Peace be with you” or “Shalom.”  He then asks them a few simple questions to reassure them that he is not a ghost. After showing them his hands and feet, encouraging them to touch him, he finally asks, “Do you have anything to eat?”

(I have to chuckle when I think that in reply Jesus is given a piece of broiled fish.  I understand this was a traditional offering or maybe that’s what they were serving that night… but, as anyone who has dieted before, that seems like maybe the least tasty of options to serve our risen Savior!)

So what can we take from these encounters?   

Patience. We are often slow to recognize Jesus. Nevertheless, Jesus continues today to demonstrate His love and patience with us time and time again, just as he did with His followers during the days after His resurrection.

Comfort. In the 40 days following Jesus’ resurrection, He continued to appear to approximately 500 of His followers.  He remained on earth to teach His disciples, and to prepare them for the mission of telling the world about Christ.  Given the atmosphere of sadness, fear and confusion during and after his crucifixion, what a blessing it must have been to Christ’s followers to see Him during those days!

Power. There is great power in a simple word chosen well. Jesus greeted His disciples with the word “Shalom.” The Hebrew definition for “Shalom” encompasses a wide variety of meanings: peace between people or nations, peace between God and human beings, human welfare or well-being, safety, or a restful state of mind. In other words, Shalom is “wholeness,” a life where things are as they should be. In this one word, He showed them He had changed everything.

Jesus’ reappearances are the ultimate example of “follow-up” to ensure the success of His mission here on Earth. His powerful, comforting words and the questions He asked and answered exemplify how we should behave toward others -- especially when it comes down to a matter of belief.

While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified, thinking they saw a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; it’s me! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones like you see I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still could not believe it (because of their joy) and were amazed, he said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” So they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in front of them. (Luke 24:36-48)

How much patience do you show to those who don’t understand and question your belief in Jesus?  Think about using powerful words and simple questions to help them understand.

Royann Bold has lived in North Dakota her whole life and is a prairie girl at heart. She and her husband are empty nesters, having seen their three sons take flight to three different states. She also recently retired from the 8 to 5 grind, and is awash in pursuing her interests of writing, reading, volunteering and lifelong learning. She thoroughly is enjoying her free time to participate in Bible and book studies. Read more articles by Royann.

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