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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Don Stewart :: What Observations Can Be Made about Jesus' Resurrection Appearances?

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What Observations Can Be Made about Jesus’ Resurrection Appearances?

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ – Question 6

As we examine the New Testament account of the appearances of Jesus Christ after His death, we can make the following observations.

1. The Appearances Were Convincing to Those Whom He Appeared

The different appearances of Jesus convinced His disciples that He had truly risen from the dead. The first chapter of Acts makes this statement about Jesus’ appearances:

After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3 NRSV)

When describing Jesus’ appearances, Luke uses a Greek word translated as “convincing proof.” This term refers to the strongest type of legal proof imaginable. The case for Jesus’ resurrection would stand up in a court of law. Luke wants to make it clear that Jesus Christ had truly risen.

2. He Appeared to Many Different People

We also note that Jesus appeared to a number of different people after His death. The multiple appearances that are recorded in the New Testament range in size from one individual, (Simon Peter), to groups of people, the eleven disciples, to over five hundred people at one time (1 Corinthians 15). These various appearances to different numbers of people testify to the fact that Jesus did indeed come back from the dead.

3. He Appeared at Different Times and Places

There was no specific time or place when the resurrected Jesus appeared. His appearances include: in a locked room, on the road to Emmaus, on a mountain in Galilee, on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, and at the empty tomb. Jesus Christ was able to appear wherever He wished. Indeed, the New Testament makes it clear that He was not limited to one geographical area.

In addition, we find that Jesus’ appearances consisted of brief encounters with people (the women returning from the tomb) to long periods of time (the two disciples on the road to Emmaus).

Jesus also appeared at different times of day—in the morning (to Mary Magdalene at the tomb), in the afternoon (to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus), and at night (to the disciples in the locked upper room).

4. The People Were Not Expecting Him to Appear

Jesus’ followers were surprised by the events that occurred in those few short days. Beginning with His betrayal by one of their own—Judas Iscariot—to the arrest, trial and crucifixion, these rapidly occurring events shocked the disciples of Christ. They were not expecting any of this to happen. However, the one thing that surprised them most was seeing Jesus Christ alive after His death.

Indeed, the women who first arrived at the tomb were not expecting Jesus to rise. Their intention was to embalm His body. They went to the tomb expecting to find someone there. This shows that they did not expect a resurrection.

When the disciples of Jesus were first told of the empty tomb, and the reports that He was alive, they did not believe them. They thought the women making these reports were crazy.

When doubting Thomas first heard that Jesus had risen, he did not believe it. In fact, until he saw Jesus for himself, and touched the scars of His wounds, he would not believe. Of course, Thomas eventually saw and believed.

All of these facts testify to the state of mind of the disciples—they were not looking for Jesus Christ to appear alive after His death.

5. His Appearances Suddenly Stopped after He Ascended into Heaven

There is something else we must appreciate. The New Testament says it was for only forty days that Jesus Christ showed Himself after His resurrection before ascending into heaven. After His ascension, Jesus did not appear any longer to His disciples—except for one episode on the isle of Patmos to John. In that instance He appeared as the glorified Christ.

These are some of the observations which we can draw from the various appearances of Jesus Christ after His death on the cross.

Summary – Question 6
What Observations Can Be Made about Jesus’ Resurrection Appearances?

Jesus Christ came back from the dead. This is the clear testimony of the four gospels. From an examination of the New Testament accounts of Jesus resurrection, we can conclude the following.

His appearances were convincing to those who saw Him. Those who saw the risen Christ were convinced that it was truly Him who had risen.

We also discover that Jesus appeared to many different people after His death. One of these appearances was to over five hundred people.

Jesus also appeared at different times and places. In other words He was not limited to one place or one time of day in which He appeared.

We know for a fact that the people were not expecting Him to appear. In each and every instance the people were surprised to see Him alive after His death.

Finally, His appearances suddenly stopped after He ascended into heaven.

To Whom Did Jesus Appear after His Death? ← Prior Section
What Do We Know about the Character of the Witnesses Who Testified of the Risen Christ? Next Section →
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