Imagine if Martin Luther King, Jr. suddenly had a nasty coughing fit in the middle of his “I Have a Dream” speech. Or if the beautiful bride had to suddenly run off to the ladies’ room right before the exchange of wedding vows. Or if Jesus needed a bite to eat before he could continue his resurrection monologue.
I have always stumbled over Jesus mundane question to his disciples in this passage from Luke 24: 42 where the disciples can’t seem to make sense of the fact that Jesus had died and yet stood before them. In order to put two and two together they had to either confirm that Jesus was a Zombie (in other words, actually still dead, but acting like a sleep-walking human) or was actually a Jesus-copying ghost—something along the lines of a Star Trek hologram. Being formally dead and now fully alive was not an option for them!
The mundane and ordinary exchange goes like this. Jesus asks the disciples, “Have you anything to eat?” The disciples give him a piece of bland, broiled fish. Jesus sticks it into his mouth and eats it while the disciples watch.
I wished I could say that I am exaggerating how utterly uninteresting this text is. There is no dressing it up all. Jesus could have asked, “Do you have anything good to eat that will make my special once-in-a lifetime resurrection visit worth my time?” The disciples could have said that they had a piece of leftover fish from the catered wedding reception from the night before. The author could have said that Jesus dipped the fish in a rich, creamy full-bodied tartar sauce made completely of locally grown organic ingredients.
There could have been something to make this text worthy of the Holy Bible, the Word of God, the very ground of our spiritual existence. But no! All we get is a simplified children’s book version of the most mundane events. Jesus asked for food. Jesus got food. Jesus ate. Disciples watched. C’mon!
Or COULD IT BE that I have fallen for the same spiritual trap that this text is attempting to address? COULD IT BE that I am guilty of thinking that something can’t be truly spiritual and also mundanely human at the same time? COULD IT BE that I just can’t seem to accept that a piece of broiled fish and resurrection life can exist in the same moment and the same person? COULD IT BE that I expect God to act like God and people to act like people and neither to act like each other? COULD IT BE that God also has a boring, mundane, and uninteresting side?
COULD IT BE that the distance between God and us really isn’t all that far?