The gospels give several stories of Jesus’ appearances after his resurrection. One of these is Luke 24:36-48, where Jesus appears to his followers as they are gathered discussing his earlier appearances to Peter and on the road to Emmaus. The conversation in that gathering must have been intense: “Peter says he saw the master!” “Could he really? Can it be true that the teacher is alive?” “The women said the tomb was empty – no body!” “We just saw Jesus! He walked with us to Emmaus!” Then, suddenly, Jesus is standing in the midst of the gathering.

The disciples were startled. And even though the women had told of the empty tomb, and Peter and others had told of seeing Jesus, those gathered thought they must be seeing a ghost – this couldn’t really be the Master. They were afraid of this vision of the dead teacher.

Jesus told them, “Look, it’s really me – no ghost, no vision or apparition – it’s me, your teacher and master. I have a body, and it’s the body you know; there are scars from crucifixion on my hands and feet. Look at my face; listen to my voice. See and believe – don’t be afraid and don’t doubt!” (See Luke 24:38-39) Their fear subsided but a million questions must have been going through their minds. There were still some doubts, but those who no longer doubted must have been wondering how this could be. Then, “while in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ (Luke 24:41)

Jesus asked for something to eat. What an incredibly human thing to do! Picture the scene: a person the disciples saw killed and buried is standing before them; once dead, now alive. He has overcome death. It’s the same Jesus – the scars on his body prove it; the stunned disciples are staring wide-eyed at Jesus in amazement. And Jesus asks for something to eat. This is startling and unexpected. If this were a skit on Saturday Night Live instead of a passage in the gospel, we would burst out laughing. But this question of Jesus, “Have you anything here to eat?” is immensely important for our understanding of both the incarnation and the resurrection.

In the incarnation, “the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). God became human while remaining God; this is the mystery of the incarnation. Jesus did not just appear to be human – he was human. And he didn’t just talk and act like God – he was God. This is a mystery which we cannot fully comprehend but it is the truth of the incarnation. After his resurrection, Jesus still was human. He had flesh and bones (Luke 24:39), and he wanted to eat. Eating is a basic biological need but with friends and family it is also a social event. Jesus wanted to eat.

Jesus did not cast off his humanity in the resurrection; the resurrected Jesus is the same God-human Jesus who “lived among us”. Later in the gospel, Luke briefly tells of the ascension of Jesus into heaven. Jesus, the incarnate God, lived among us and died. This same Jesus was resurrected and ascended into heaven while remaining incarnate. Jesus did not “shed” his humanity in his death, resurrection, or ascension. Jesus, the Son of God, became incarnate once and forever. This same incarnate Jesus lives with the Father now.

The author of Psalm 10 understood that God loves and cares for us. The psalmist said to God, “You note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands; the helpless commit themselves to you” (Psalm 10:14). But what the psalmist didn’t know is that is was not enough for God to take our concerns into his hands. God loved us so much that he wanted more; God wanted a closer connection to us. And so the Word became flesh.

Jesus lived among us, and he lived a human life. He had friends and family, he laughed and cried, he ate and drank, he hurt and died. His life was like ours, and Jesus experienced what we experienced. Those experiences, those memories of good times and bad, were not cast off in his death, resurrection or ascension. They remain part of Jesus, as Jesus dwells with the Father.

God has taken our cares, our hopes, the substance of human life, into his heart. It was not enough for God to take our trouble and grief into his hands; God’s love moved him to take our trouble and grief into his heart. This was accomplished in the mystery of the incarnation and was preserved in Jesus’ death and resurrection. His ascension completed the act, and the experience of the incarnate Jesus, the human life of Jesus, lives forever in the heart of God. We, our lives, are not just committed into the hands of God, but through Jesus are committed into the heart of God.