At that very hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and those with them gathered together, who said, “The Lord has certainly been raised, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they began to describe what had happened on the road and how He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
And as they were saying these things, He Himself stood among them. He said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. “Why are you troubled?” He asked them. “And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself! Touch Me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” Having said this, He showed them His hands and feet. But while they still could not believe because of their joy and were amazed, He asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and He took it and ate in their presence. (Luke 24:33-43)
The afterlife is physical. We don’t become ghosts or spirits. There had been many witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection: the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, several women, and even Peter. But when Jesus appeared suddenly in the room with them, his disciples were terrified and their first thought—their automatic reaction—was to think it was a ghost.
Human beings are funny things. Sometimes we are very slow to accept reality.
Jesus told them a ghost does not have “flesh and bones,” a standard idiom indicating that he was solid and real, proven when he ate some of their food. The many people that Jesus had raised from the dead should have prepared his disciples for Jesus’ resurrection. The fact that they had already seen him before should have prepared them. But it is just very hard to take a man coming back from the dead for granted.
Jesus resurrection demonstrates that our own resurrection is going to happen. That he was physical and ate food tells us what our resurrection bodies will be like: much like our current bodies. That they recognized him—eventually—tells us that our bodies will be recognizably ours. He still had the scars of his ordeal—but they had been healed. We too, may bear scars from our lives here, but like Jesus’ scars, they will have been healed.