These verses contain the appearance of the risen Jesus to the eleven and their companions. Luke’s account has parallels with the accounts found in Matthew, Mark, and John. Here, too, like in the Emmaus story, the disciples are unable to recognize Jesus. When Jesus appears to them and greets them with a wish of peace, they think they are seeing a ghost and so, are frightened and terrified. Jesus’ response to these emotions is to ask why they are frightened and why doubts must arise. In order to prove to them that it is indeed he, Jesus shows them his hands and feet and invites them to touch him. This is to prove that he is not a spirit which has no flesh and bones. Despite this invitation, they continue to doubt. Jesus then asks them for something to eat. He eats what they give him, in front of them. This gesture results in portraying the reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Yet, Luke does not explicitly state that the disciples believed, even after seeing Jesus eat.
Jesus does something more. He explains to them, like he did to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the scriptures and the things concerning him that the scriptures had foretold. Scripture could only be fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus. After this, he commissions them to be witnesses of this fact and through it, the gift of forgiveness of sins to all nations, which will begin in
Thus, the text which began with the doubt and confusion of the disciples ends with them being made witnesses of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. They are witnesses that his death and resurrection have resulted in salvation and forgiveness of sins for all humankind.
The points that Luke seems to want to make here are first, that Jesus has indeed been raised, and bodily, and second, that the disciples who will proclaim this fact were eye witnesses to this event. It was not simply an event that took place beyond history (though the resurrection, as such, is a meta-historical event) but happened in space and in time, was real, and witnessed by the disciples who saw the risen Lord.
The hands and feet that Jesus showed his disciples are visible today in each of us who claim to be his disciples. These are to be shown to the world as “proof” not only of the fact that Jesus is alive, but that in his name, forgiveness is even now being preached. It is significant that the content of the preaching, even after the resurrection of Jesus, is to be forgiveness, because that is why Jesus came into the world; to save people from their sins. This forgiveness can be preached and made real only if we bear witness to it through our lives.