There is one other post-resurrection appearance I want to think about as we wait for Pentecost. Paul recounts to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 the appearances between Christ’s purposeful death and resurrection and His ascension back into heaven. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,(Christ died and rose again with purpose foretold in scripture)5 and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” (Paul is referring to his encounter with Jesus on the Road to Damascus that happened sometime later.)
Have you ever wondered about the large gathering of 500 that saw Jesus? What was His purpose? In each post-resurrection appearance, Jesus purposefully met with those who needed to see Him most- the grieving Mary, the doubting Thomas, the guilt ridden Peter and the unbelieving disciples. What could have been His reason for appearing to 500? Perhaps He wanted those who did not know Him as intimately as the disciples to experience His love and power first hand? Perhaps He wanted to make known the reality that He was alive and they could carry on. Perhaps He wanted to comfort, ignite, give hope, …. Seeing Him again, knowing the reality of His death on the cross, knowing He had been buried and was alive for them to see must have been eyeopening, challenging, fearsome, awesome, unbelievable….. One can only imagine what it must have been like to see Jesus.
Today as you think about this, try to picture yourself as one of the 500. We have an advantage as we have His indwelling Holy Spirit within us to convict us and bear witness to our faith. We do not need to see Him to believe. Jesus addressed this issue in John 20:29 as He spoke to Thomas. “ Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Faith is a blessing from God. Thank Him today for your ability to believe even though you were not there with the 500. You can know that He loves, cares for you and is with you always.