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Resurrection Appearances

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Matthew 28:7-10… “And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” 8 And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they shall see Me.”


            The women who visited Jesus’ grave the morning of his resurrection had but one assignment: go and tell Jesus’ disciples. The tomb Jesus was buried in was in Jerusalem in Judea, and Jesus was going before them into the province of Galilee some 75 miles to the north. Earlier in the week Jesus had told his disciples that after he was raised he would go before them into Galilee (Matt 26:32). Jesus had begun his ministry in Galilee, and that was where his hometown of Nazareth was. It was in Galilee where Jesus would make his appearance the grandest when he appeared to more than 500  brethren at one time (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:6).

            When we look at John’s resurrection account in 20:1-18 in comparison to Matthew’s, what appears to have happened was that, according to the words of the angel, the resurrected Jesus was already making his way into Galilee that morning. When the women departed the gravesite they went and told the disciples about the empty tomb. Peter and John ran to the tomb and ascertained for themselves that it was empty. After they left, Mary Magdalene and at least one other woman stayed behind and wept. As they proceeded to leave and tell the other disciples Jesus appeared to them, and as verse 9 above says, “Jesus met them and greeted them.” His trek into Galilee was yet to be, and before he made his way there he was to appear to the women who “took hold of his feet and worshipped him.” Jesus then instructed them to proceed onward to his disciples to instruct them to go into Galilee where they would see him. Later that day that he appeared on the road to Emmaus (a town outside of Jerusalem) to two of his followers (Luke 24:15) and  that night to ten of the disciples (John 20:19) as they assembled together in fear for their lives.


Food for thought

            I like what one commentator says with regard to the women who were where they needed to be that day: “In reality, the closer a believer stays to the Lord and his work, the more he is going to witness and experience the Lord’s power. Those who are there when the Lord’s people gather for worship and prayer, who are there when His Word is being taught, who are there when the lost are being won to Christ, who are there when others are being served in His name, who are regular in their times of private prayer – those are the ones who will most often experience firsthand the work of God.” In other words, if we’re not where we need to be in our relationship with God, we will indeed miss much. We must remember that each time we sleep in on Sunday.

The angel’s message to the women the day Christ rose from the tomb is the same message today: “Go quickly and tell that he has risen from the dead.” Let that be the message that we as believers cling to, live by, and are willing to die for.





John 20:6-10… Simon Peter therefore also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he beheld the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the face-cloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb entered then also, and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.


            After being told about the empty tomb by the women who first witnessed it, Peter and John took off running to the place where Jesus was buried. John got there first, but when Peter came in following him verses 6-7 says, “he beheld the linen wrappings lying there and the face-cloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.” This observation as it is preserved in scripture must not go unnoticed.

            Though the language of the Greek text here could mean that Jesus’ body rose through the grave clothes without disturbing them, this is not what is stated in the text. In other words, some have said that John records his observations to show that the cloth and face wrapping were a hollow shell in the shape of a man from where Jesus came out of them. Whatever the truth of this is, it is clear that the scene does not give way to a grave robbery as the Jews at that time proposed and as some in the modern day adhere to. What the Apostle John is describing is an orderly scene. It’s almost as if he’s reporting the crime scene in a police report. His observations show that the body was not stolen because they would never have left the cloths behind the way they were. They would have taken the body while still in the wrappings for this would have made it easier to carry the body away. Even if the proposed grave robbers would have taken the cloths off, the scene would have looked much more chaotic. The wrappings would have been thrown all around the tomb. As it was, John noticed that they were all lying there neatly with the face cloth “rolled up in a place by itself.” The scene was orderly, the body was gone, and Jesus was alive.

            When the latter part of verse 8 says “he saw and believed” it must be noted from the next verse that what he and Peter believed was not a resurrection of Jesus. John simply believed what Mary had told him, namely, that the body of Jesus was not there. Verse 9 says they didn’t understand that Jesus was to rise from the dead. As a result they went away, and as Luke’s account tells us, “[Peter] went away wondering to himself what had happened” (24:12). It wasn’t until later when Jesus opened their minds that they understood (Luke 24:44-46).

Food for thought

            How many of us have shared the good news of Jesus Christ with others and been rejected time and time again? We preach about Jesus and tell of his death and subsequent resurrection but are looked at as fools to be pitied above all others. The story is a simple story about a man who was and is God. Despite the fact that he told of what he came to do and what would eventually happen to him most people at the time didn’t really listen well or even care. The ones that cared the most are the ones that killed him because his message was so offensive to them. Even his disciples didn’t fully understand until Jesus himself opened their minds to the Truth.

            We all know people who don’t trust in Jesus Christ – who don’t have a personal relationship with God. It’s our job to share with them the gospel, but it’s God’s responsibility to open their minds – the same way He did for the disciples. When you share the good news know that in sharing that news you have done only half of what you can. The other half is to pray that God will open their minds so they can believe. Do that for someone who is lost today.

John 20:27-31…Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

            30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


            The day Christ was resurrected from the dead he showed himself to his disciples in an upper room. For whatever reason Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not there to see his risen Lord. When the others told him about it, he refused to believe it. One week later Christ appeared again to the disciples, and Thomas was there. Upon seeing Jesus alive he did believe. Jesus even allowed Thomas to put his finger into the healed wounds that he suffered while on the cross. Thomas’ awe over the situation resulted in his belief. His cry is significant because he calls Jesus both “Lord” and “God.” Jesus wasn’t just Thomas’ master (as Lord signifies), Jesus was also Thomas’ God, and in calling Jesus “God” he was not corrected by Jesus. This is another proof that Jesus is in fact God Almighty, the second member of the Trinity.

            Jesus somewhat rebukes Thomas by explaining to him that his faith was weak. Since Thomas refused to believe without actually seeing Jesus alive, Jesus lovingly showed himself to Thomas anyway a week after his first appearance to the disciples. Then Jesus explains the blessings of those who will believe in him without ever having seen him. True faith comes without actually seeing something but believing that which is told from reliable witnesses.

            Verse 30 shows that all that Jesus did, his signs and miracles, is not recorded by John or any of the other disciples. What has been handed down to us is sufficient for belief in who Jesus Christ is. John wrote what he wrote so that others would read it and believe his account, namely that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that by believing we would have life in his name. To have “life in his name” is signifies life outside of the normal way of living. Having life in the name of Jesus Christ is a new life, a life that brings spiritual and physical blessings. It’s a life that will never die because it is in Christ – the God-man who was once dead and now lives.

Food for thought

            Many people today seek proofs for the life of Jesus Christ outside of what’s given in Scripture. We must always remember that what is written in our Bibles is sufficient for “life in his name.” John’s statement says it all when it tells us that many more miracles were performed by Jesus, but only a select few are recorded. Of course that makes perfect sense, because if today’s skeptics can’t believe in the miracles that were performed by Jesus, and in his resurrection, then to have recorded all the miracles of Jesus would have just been a waste of time and space. We have what we need for belief and for “life in his name,” and for those of us who have experienced what that brings to our lives on this earth, it’s not only sufficient, it’s more than enough. The life we have in Christ is all we need. Everything else is just added bonus.

The appearance of Jesus to Thomas had a profound impact on Thomas. Legend has it that he went to India as a missionary and died there as a martyr. One account says that he died because he refused to stop talking about his friend who was once dead and who came back to life. The people got tired of hearing Thomas talk, so they killed him. What a wonderful way to die! If you love Jesus Christ expect people to persecute you for it. It goes with the belief in him.

1 Corinthians 15:3-6… I passed on to you what I received, which is of the greatest importance: that Christ died for our sins, as written in the Scriptures; 4 that he was buried and that he was raised to life three days later, as written in the Scriptures; 5 that he appeared to Peter and then to all twelve apostles. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred of his followers at once, most of whom are still alive, although some have died.


The Apostle Paul writes here, and he is passing on the historical event that is of greater importance than any other in history. It’s a great “creed” – basically the first Christian creed given in Scripture. Jesus died for sins just like the OT scriptures said he would. He was buried in a tomb, and was raised to life three days later. This was not some fanciful story, for he appeared to many people following his resurrection. Paul’s audience knew Peter, to whom Christ appeared, and they knew the other Twelve. The grand finale came forty days after Christ’s resurrection, when, after appearing to his disciples and more than 500 other people at one time (1 Corinthians 15:5-6), he ascended into heaven. As his twelve disciples observed him being taken up into the clouds, a messenger of God told them, “This same Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Of course that day still awaits us, but his return will look a bit like his departure.

Zechariah 14:4 says that when Jesus comes back he will descend from heaven and stand on the Mount of Olives – the very place where he ascended into heaven in Acts 1, 40 days after his resurrection from the dead. When he comes back that same Mount of Olives will split in two as Jesus stands on it and form a great valley. This day is known as the “Day of the Lord” – a day of great wrath against those who have rejected Jesus Christ (cf. Revelation 6-19).

            Whereas the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the most significant event that has occurred in the past, the most significant event that awaits a future fulfillment is the return of Jesus Christ. This is the hope of all who call on the name of Christ, but that “hope” isn’t just an empty “wish” that may or may not come true. The Christian’s hope is secure in knowing that God is true to His word throughout eternity. God sent His prophets to foretell of the coming Messiah, and he came in the man Jesus Christ – fulfilling over 300 Old Testament prophecies in so doing. Since there are more than 300 more Old Testament prophecies that await a future fulfillment, the hope of the Christian is grounded in knowing these too will be fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s second coming. God is not a man that he should lie, so His Word must be fulfilled.

Food for thought

            Prophecy is one of the true distinctives of the Christian Bible. With over 600 of them that point to Jesus Christ, consider this: for one man to fulfill just eight of these prophecies has odds of 1 in 1017 (that’s 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000)! Peter Stoner, a statistician, illustrates it this way: If we could fill the entire state of Texas with silver dollars three feet deep, and mark one with a red pen, stir them up – then parachute a person into Texas blindfolded giving him one chance to find the marked silver dollar, his odds of finding that sliver dollar on the first try are the same as one man fulfilling just eight of the messianic prophecies. Jesus Christ fulfilled over 300, and there’s another 300 awaiting his return. Who else could fulfill such prophecies?

            It makes no sense how some can reject Jesus in favor of another. The proof of who Christ is is overwhelming. The “god” of this age has truly blinded the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4) who refuse to believe. Jesus is coming back again, and the “proof” many seek will come with him, but then it will be too late. They’ll bow before him, but they’ll be left behind by him.

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