Post-Resurrection Appearances of Christ
Revelation Lesson #021
October 10, 2004
This appearance of Jesus Christ is the last of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ. Liberal theology, i.e. those who do not want to believe the literal, inerrant, infallible Word of God, want to diminish or dilute the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We see the influence of this in many of the movies that are made about the life of Christ. They either don't depict the resurrection or if they do you hear the disembodied voice speaking to the apostles but they don't ever do an adequate job of representing the physical bodily resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, that He is not just some ephemeral ghost, not some mystical apparition, He has a resurrection body and He has had victory over death.
The resurrection of Christ is one of the most incredible evidences of His claims to deity and confirmation of His work on the cross. It validates all that He said about who He was and what He came to do. In fact, it was so revolutionary, so powerful, that the eleven disciples who had virtually scattered to the wind, cowering in the corners and in the shadows, fearful that they too would be arrested by the authorities and crucified, that within just a few days after seeing the resurrected Christ they are no longer fearful. There world had been turned upside down, they had seen a man who had conquered death, and they know there is no longer anything to fear, for them now resurrection was the reality of their existence.
There were a number of times that Jesus Revealed Himself in these post-resurrection appearances. It was not that He just had this one appearance to the disciples but He appeared to over 500 in 17 different post-resurrection appearances.
- Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene on the resurrection Sunday morning. Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-17. She was one of His most devoted followers and unlike the disciples she wasn't hiding, she was concerned about taking care of the body in the tomb.
- He appeared to the other women. Matthew 28:9, 10. There were other women who came to the tomb. There is a tremendous contrast here between the courage of the women to go to the tomb and identify themselves with their savior, unlike the men who were hiding.
- Later that afternoon He appeared to Peter. Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5 where Peter is referred to by His Aramaic name, Cephas.
- Even later that afternoon He appears to two disciples who headed to Emmaus, a northern suburb of Jerusalem about 15 miles away. Luke 24:13-3.
- In the early evening He finally appeared to the ten but at this time Thomas wasn't with them. Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-23.
- To the eleven disciples a little later on that evening. He comes back and now Thomas in there.
- Several days later he appeared to seven of the disciples who were by the Sea of Galilee. They had been out fishing and when they came back to the shore for breakfast when He appeared to them. John 21:1-23. It is there that He gives His marching orders to the disciples, and specifically Peter, that their job is to feed the sheep.
- He then appeared to and taught 500 believers at one time. 1 Corinthians 15:6.
- He also appeared to members of His immediate family. Jesus had various brothers and sisters, the Scriptures say. None of them believed in Him, accepted Him as Messiah, before the resurrection.
- He appeared to eleven disciples on a mountain in Galilee. Matthew 28:16-20. It is there that they are told to make disciples and baptize. Jesus is addressing the disciples, and through them the leaders of the church, that this is the mission of the church—to make students of the Word. Baptism simply reflects that which was soon to take place at the moment of conversion. So the emphasis is on two things: evangelism, indicated in the early church through baptism because baptism is a picture of our immediate identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. The physical act of baptism with water was a picture and a type of the spiritual act of baptism by the Holy Spirit, that at the instant of faith alone in Christ alone we are identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection by the Holy Spirit. This becomes the mission statement for the church in the church age, that this is our task, to take the gospel to the nations. This is the New Testament equivalent to the command to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 to be a blessing to all people. It is through the evangelistic ministry in the church age that the blessing mandate of the Abrahamic covenant is brought to fulfillment.
- The final appearance of the Lord during the intermediate period before Pentecost was at the time of His ascension. This is described in Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:3-9. Jesus appeared at that time to the eleven and He gives them their final marching orders that they are to take the gospel to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth. That is a reiteration of the great commission. It is the structural marker for the book of Acts. The remainder of the resurrection appearance are all post-ascension, and they involve a temporary departure from the right hand of the Father.
- His next appearance was to the first martyr of the church, Stephen, Acts 7:55, 56. It is as Stephen is being stoned that he is filled with the Spirit, gazes to heaven, and God pulls back the veil so that he sees the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Jesus is pictured here as standing because He is receiving Stephen into heaven. He is still "seated" as the technical aspect referring to His session but He is pictured as standing for the reception of Stephen.
- The most famous post-ascension of Jesus is to the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. Once again, this is not just Paul having a vision, this is an objective appearance. His associates didn't see Jesus but they saw the bright light and they heard the sound of His voice. This indicates it is an objective appearance but they weren't supposed to hear the words and Jesus wasn't appearing to them, so they didn't see the specifics. But they saw something. If Paul had just been having a dream or a hallucination nobody else would see anything. Acts 9:3-6; 22:6-11; 26:13-18.
- Jesus then appeared after this to Paul in Arabia. Acts 20:34; 26:17; Galatians 1:12, 17.
- He appeared to Paul a third time in the temple. Acts 22:17-21, where He is commissioning Paul as an apostle.
- He appeared to Paul a fourth time when Paul was in prison, Acts 23:11.
- The final appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ was to John on the island of Patmos where He commissions him to write the things that he sees. Revelation chapter one. This is the last time that Jesus Christ appeared in history. After the close of the canon there was no longer a reason for Him to appear.