If I were writing a list of ‘things I’d expect Jesus to say to me just after destroying the power of death’ I probably wouldn’t have included “Have you got anything to eat?” (24:41).
Food seems to feature in a lot of the resurrection appearances. Perhaps Jesus eating is emphasised to stress that his resurrection is real and physical. He himself makes it clear he is flesh and blood, no ghost. Later ideas of a ‘spiritual’ resurrection while his body lay in the tomb don’t fit the pattern of the gospels – or the Jewish expectation of a bodily resurrection.
The Ascension says something of the same theme. It’s embarrassingly physical to our modern thinking, knowing that Heaven isn’t ‘up there’ in any literal sense. But it’s important that Jesus is seen to leave the earth physically, not by disappearing or fading away. He takes humanity into heaven as it is, a bodily reality transformed by resurrection but still tangible, touchable – and with a healthy appetite.
But I’m sure that the mention of sharing food isn’t just symbolic. Jesus, risen from the dead, eats with his friends as he did so often before. His appetite for food is real. His appetite for the company of friends is just as real.