I have always found it interesting that so many of Jesus’ resurrection
appearances to his disciples occur in the first week of his resurrection. On
the day of resurrection itself the gospels tell us that Jesus appeared to
Mary and other women (Matthew 28:9), to Mary (John 20:11ff), to Peter (Luke
24:34) although this is reported rather than an appearance narrative, the
two men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13ff) and to ten disciples in John
20:19. He then appears a week later to all the disciples including Thomas.
The only other post resurrection appearance mentioned in the gospels is at
the Sea of Galilee (no time is given). Paul mentions that Jesus also appears
to 500 other people at the same time, to James and then to Paul himself
(1Cor 15:6ff). We know Jesus appeared to the disciples over the next forty
days until his ascension. Why so many appearances on the day of
We can only surmise the answer to that. I wonder though if has not got
something to do with the proof that so many people need in situations like
this. We know that the disciples did not believe the women when told of his
resurrection. It was almost as if, like Thomas, they needed physical proof
as well. They needed the proof to be able to be confident in proclaiming its
truth as part of their later mission. If they were to do this effectively
there could be no doubt or hesitation in proclaiming this truth.
I also wonder if the multiple appearances were to stop future detractors
saying that it was all an illusion or hallucination. For one or two people
to assert Jesus resurrection is one thing but so many, in so short a time in
various locations makes this argument more problematical. Whatever the
reason, the resurrection does demand a response.
Mary worshipped, John believed, Peter was hopeful, the Emmaus men were
overjoyed, Thomas doubted. All are valid. The question is, what response do
you have? Our response to the resurrection will determine how and why we
undertake the mission given to us by Jesus to go and make disciples.