Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus appeared alive again to his followers. Upon seeing him, “they were startled and terrified.” They are terrified because the one they abandoned and betrayed and left for dead is back—undoubtedly for revenge!
Luke’s risen Jesus does two things in the presence of his shocked followers. The first thing is that he shows them his wounds. This move is a reiteration of the judgment of the cross: don’t forget, he tells them, what the world did when the Author of life appeared.
But he does something else; he says, “Shalom”—“Peace be with you.” In this, he opens up a new spiritual world and thereby becomes our Savior. From ancient creation myths to the Rambo and Dirty Harry movies, the principle is the same: order, destroyed through violence, is restored through a righteous exercise of greater violence.
And then there is Jesus. The terrible disorder of the cross (the killing of the Son of God) is addressed not through an explosion of divine vengeance but through a radiation of divine love. When Christ confronts those who contributed to his death, he speaks words not of retribution but of reconciliation and compassion.