This blog is Part 2 of the resurrection story of Jesus. If you’d like to read Part 1, you can find it here –The Greatest Week in History

(Acts 1:3) “After his [Jesus’] suffering, he showed himself to these men [and women] and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”

Post-Resurrection Appearances over the next forty days, including resurrection Sunday:

  • Johns account at the tomb (John 20:13-18)

According to John’s gospel, the first appearance Jesus made after he rose from the dead, was to Mary Magdalene who was weeping at the tomb. Jesus appeared in resurrection form to her after two angels in white, who sere seated in the tomb where Jesus’ body had been. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’”

Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’”

“She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’” (which means Teacher).

“Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them that he had said these things to her.”

I love that Jesus used Mary’s name to help her recognize him. She had heard him use her name many, many times – this had to be Jesus! When we hear someone use our name, there is a bond that occurs – it’s a personal and friendly way to greet someone. I think using her name must have also calmed her. Hearing Jesus use her name was evidence to her that it was Him. It only took that one specific word for her to realize the “gardener” was Jesus!

  • (Luke 24:13-35) On Resurrection Sunday Jesus appears and walks with two disciples on their way to Emmaus. “When they got there, the disciples invited Jesus to stay with them. At dinner, Jesus gave thanks, and broke the bread. Then the disciple’s eyes were opened and they recognized him, but Jesus disappeared from their sight.”
    • One named Cleopas
  • (Luke 24:34) Jesus appears to the apostle Peter. “…It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” (I Cor 15:3-5) “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.”
  • (Luke 24:36ff) Jesus appears to the apostles, minus Thomas. “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. (John 12:19-20) Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.’”
  •  (John 20:24-29) “A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he 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 yet have believed.’” (John 20:31) “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.”
  • (John 21) Jesus appears to some of the apostles for the third time at the Sea of Tiberias. “Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way…”
  • (I Cor 15:6) Jesus appears to a crowd of 500 people. “After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time…”
  • (I Cor 15:7) Jesus appears to James. “Then he appeared to James…”
  • (Luke 24:50-53) Jesus appears to apostles before his ascension to heaven. “When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.”
    • The Ascension
  • (Acts 9:3-9) Jesus appears to Saul (Paul). “As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’” (I Corinthians 15:8) “…and last of all he appeared to me also…”
  • (Mark 16:19) Jesus appears to his apostles before his ascension. Mark’s account – “After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”

The disciples who had walked with Jesus for three years, became his best friends, witnessed all his miracles, and heard his teachings in amazement. But they fled from him when they felt their lives were at risk because of their close association with him. They abandoned Jesus and hid – all except John. John his beloved disciple was at the cross with him.

“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, the disciple [John] took her into his home” (John 19:25-27).

In the bible, following the accounts of the gospels, we immediately enter into the book of “Acts”, which is another book of the bible written by the apostle Luke. “Acts” is short for The Acts of the Apostles. All the apostles are back together again after they were strengthened by the appearances of Jesus. It was the evidence they needed to carry out their future missions. The first order of business was to replace the twelfth apostle. They chose, by praying and casting lots, a new apostle who had been with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry. Matthias was added to the eleven to replace Judas who had betrayed Jesus and hung himself.

(Acts 1:15) In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty).

Okay, wait a minute…

Is it just me, or are others of you wondering, “Where is everyone?” Only 120 believers? Where are the thousands whom Jesus fed, and the hundreds or thousands of those whom Jesus personally healed? Where are all the people who welcomed him with palm branches in Jerusalem the Sunday before his death? Many people enjoyed the benefits of healing and of miracles, but there is only a small remnant of true followers left. Even his closest and friends and apostles struggled and abandoned him at the cross – all except John. They scattered and went into hiding.

Jesus’ death on the cross exposed the truth in people’s hearts. We know who some of the 120 were: the 12 apostles (including Matthias – the new apostle); Jesus’ mother Mary; Mary Magdalene; Mary, the mother of James; Joanna; Mary Salome (probably wife of Zebedee and mother of the other James, and John and possibly sister or half-sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus); Barsabbas; and Jesus’ brothers.

Doesn’t it seem like a small number of followers for over three years of teaching and preaching by Jesus and dying for the truth? Many more believed in him when he was alive than when he died. Why? What happened? People were afraid. Fear stopped many from believing. First century Christians were often deeply persecuted by the Romans, many to their deaths.

On the 50th day after Resurrection Sunday – The Day of Pentecost – (Jewish festival of Shavouth)

It was time for the Spring Harvest Festival which brought many people to Jerusalem from various provinces of the Roman empire, provinces of the Parthian empire, cities in Rome, and from the island of Crete. Because of the festival, crowds of visitors were in Jerusalem. God enabled the apostles to speak in all languages, so no matter where they came from, travelers could understand the message of Jesus and bring it back to their people.

(Acts 2:1-6) “When the day of Pentecost came, they [the apostles] were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.”

Peter addresses the crowd with the Eleven by his side. He teaches about prophesies foretold and of Jesus.

“Men of Israel, listen to this; Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him…God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear…Therefore let all Israel be assured of this; God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’”

“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call’. With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”

(Acts 2:47) “…And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Each apostle who fled from the cross out of fear, now preached about Jesus and his teachings to their deaths.

Peter – Traditionally believed that he first traveled to Antioch, then Corinth, then Rome. He was martyred in the Circus of Nero around 64 AD in Rome. He was crucified upside down.

Andrew – Preached to Greek communities and was martyred at Patras on a cross in the shape of an X.

James (brother of John)“It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword” (Acts 12:1-2). He died in 44 AD in Jerusalem.

John – Only apostle who didn’t die a martyr’s death. Only apostle at Jesus’ death. Wrote the books of John and Revelation. Died around 100 AD and is buried near Ephesus.

Philip – Ministered to Greek-speaking communities. Martyred around 80 AD.

Bartholomew – preached at various locations. Martyred and buried in Rome.

(No longer doubting) Thomas – Widely known for his missions in India. Died around 72 AD.

Matthew – Preached in the Mediterranean before he was martyred in Ethiopia.

James (writer of book of James) – James remained in Jerusalem for decades until he was stoned to death by the Jewish authorities in 62 AD.

Judas Thaddeus – Often overlooked because of bearing the same first name as Judas Iscariot. He preached the gospel in various places. He is revered by the Armenian Church as the Apostle to the Armenians. Died a martyrs death in Beirut, Lebanon around 65 AD.

Simon the Zealot – Probably preached with Judas Thaddeus as both were martyred in Beirut around the same year, 65 AD.

Matthias – Replacement apostle to Judas Iscariot. Possibly founded a church in Cappadocia and ministered to Christians on the coast of the Caspian Sea. Matthias was beheaded with an axe in Colchis at the hands of the pagans.

To become a Christian in the first century often times meant death, although there is still deep persecution today around the world for proclaiming, “Jesus is Lord”.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ Pagans were probably most suspicious of the Christian refusal to sacrifice to the Roman gods. This was an insult to the gods and potentially endangered the empire which they deigned to protect. Furthermore, the Christian refusal to offer sacrifices to the emperor, a semi-divine monarch, had the whiff of both sacrilege and treason about it. Thus the classic test of a Christian’s faith was to force him or her, on pain of death, to swear by the emperor and offer incense to his images, or to sacrifice to the gods. In the mid-second-century account of the martyrdom of Polycarp, officials begged Polycarp to say ‘Caesar is Lord’, and to offer incense, to save his life. He refused. Later, in the arena, he was asked by the governor to swear an oath by the ‘luck of Caesar’. He refused, and although he was apparently eager to meet his death, beast-fighting had been declared closed for the day and so he was burnt alive instead.

By the third century, Christianity grew and became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

The impact of the life of Jesus continues today, 2000 years after his death, all around the world, in every nation.

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

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