Many Witnesses to the Resurrected Jesus

After Jesus was resurrected, not much attention has been given by most people to what he did next. The first appeared was to Mary Magdala in the garden. Peter and John visited the tomb and found it empty, but Mary was the first to actually have a conversation with Jesus. She stood on the outside of the tomb and wept. She thought someone stole the body of Christ. Angels appeared supposedly to comfort her. It did little good because she was so upset. Then she heard a voice thinking that it was the gardener. When Jesus called her name, she fell at his feet worshiping him. From there on it was a matter of convincing those close to Jesus that he truly was resurrected.

Afterwards, Jesus appeared to other women who left the company of the apostles. Again, when Jesus greeted them, they fell at his feet to worship. He told him not to be afraid and to tell the brethren that he was resurrected.

In the meantime, after the Roman guards fled for the fright of what they saw when Jesus was resurrected, they told the Sanhedrin what happened. To keep the news quiet even though they did not believe Jesus was resurrected, they bribed the soldiers to give a false report saying the disciples stole the body of Christ while they slept. This was an impossible story. These were Roman soldiers who would be loyal to their duty and never sleep. It would mean the death penalty if they did such a thing. Those Sanhedrin reassured the soldiers that they would support the story and intervene with the governor that it was true, and the soldiers should not be punished. The story became the official record which continued on for centuries. For the disciples to overcome Roman soldiers was a magnificent overstatement. They would have been slain the minute they attacked them.

There were two disciples, not members of the original twelve, who for some reason decided to go to a town called Emmaus. It was 7 miles from Jerusalem. While they were walking Jesus approached them but was not recognized. They convinced him to walk alongside for the company. They told him of the crucifixion of Christ questioning if he was a stranger that did not know what had happened. Jesus encouraged them to tell him about the events. It was too preposterous to believe that he was resurrected, and these disciples did not believe it at all. Abruptly Jesus intervened to tell them about himself and the fulfillment of Scripture beginning with Moses. They asked Jesus to continue following with them as a guest eventually realizing that Jesus was right before them as the resurrected Christ.

The disciples were gathered together in the upper room. They were there hiding in fear from the murder of their leader. Everyone was present except Thomas. Jesus appeared to them offering comfort by showing his hands and feet scarred from the crucifixion. At that time Jesus instructed them to stay together as a group to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them. They represented the church that Jesus founded. Therefore, it was their presence as the church that experienced the Holy Spirit. When they told Thomas later about having talked with Jesus, Thomas refused to believe. It is unfair to call him doubting Thomas because all he wanted was the same proof that the other disciples had.

What followed next was one of my favorite passages of Scripture. The next time the group was gathered, Thomas was with them. The door was locked yet Jesus was among them. He singled out Thomas to give him that same opportunity as the other disciples had to verify his crucifixion by observing the nail marks in his hands and where the spear left a wound. Realizing that the resurrected Lord and Savior was before him, Thomas cried out when he fell on his knees, “My Lord and my God.” Thomas had tangible proof of the resurrection. Jesus placed a prophetic blessing on all those who would believe in him down through the centuries including you and me. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” This is you and me, folks!

Later when the disciples decided to go fishing, not having received any specific instructions that they could not. They caught nothing. Then at the appearance of Jesus, he told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. They caught so many fish that it was difficult to bring them to shore. Already Jesus had kindled a fire with fish cooking on it. Around that fire, Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. The word for love that Jesus used was agape or divine love. Twice Jesus used the Greek word for love, but Peter responded in the Greek word meaning brotherly love. Either he could not understand or refused to align himself with divine love toward Jesus. After the third failure of Peter, Jesus downgraded his question to brotherly love. He told him to care for the sheep.

At another time, the eleven disciples were to go to a specific mountain where he would meet them. This was the occasion in which five hundred people waited to hear Jesus speak. Many of those five hundred people were still alive at the time that Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthian church. This large group of people were believers in the resurrected Christ and ready to obey his bidding. They were given the task to evangelize the world. This is now our task as believers to share the good news of the gospel. The half-brother of Jesus, James, who had been converted after the resurrection, may have been one of those five hundred. Jesus talked about prophecy from the Old Testament.

The last appearance of Jesus was on the Mount of Olives with the disciples. He took them to a specific high point. Suddenly, while he was blessing them and teaching them his feet were no longer on the ground. He began to float up into the sky to be enveloped in a cloud. As they stood awestruck, two angels appeared unto them asking why they were continuing to stare into the sky. They reassured the disciples that in the same way Jesus went up he would also return in power and glory. This is what we now look toward ….. Our meeting with the Lord Jesus risen Christ, Son of God.

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