Jesus appeared to the disciples and others to show them living proof that He was alive. He did not appear just once but multiple times between His resurrection and Pentecost when He returned to heaven. Over the period of 40 days He met in various places to reassure them He was alive, had returned from the dead and that their faith in Him was real and true. On Resurrection Sunday He met the women in the garden, and the two men walking on the Road to Emmaus. In today’s passage, Jesus appeared to those disciples gathered in the Upper Room.
“While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ When he had said them he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.” Luke 24:36-43
What was their immediate concern? Is Jesus real or are we experiencing hallucinations? What was Jesus immediate concern? Jesus wanted them to have and be at peace. He did not want them anxious or fearful but open and willing to welcome Him into their midst. What is your reaction when confronted by Jesus? Do you doubt who Jesus is and question His reaching out to you or do you welcome Him with peace?
Jesus reassured the disciples that He was a real living being just as He promised. He proved it to them by calmly showing them His hands and feet- pierced at the cross, and eating food with them.
How does Jesus make himself known to you? Does He come to you in prayer, in the helping hands of others or through His Word? Jesus can and does reveal himself to us if we are open and willing. In Matthew 7:7 Jesus tells us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”Be a seeker today and know the joy of His presence. Be amazed as you encounter the living Lord Jesus, just as the disciples did in the upper room. Each encounter with Jesus brings new revelation and understanding of who He is! Be open to Him and He will give you His peace.
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 20:29as 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.
Several of the post-resurrection appearances were to specific individuals instead of groups. Jesus met Mary as I wrote about in the blog of May 3, 2019, but today I want to look at Jesus’ appearance to Peter and James. The appearance to Peter is mentioned in passing in Luke 24:34 “saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” and in 1 Corinthians 15:5 by Paul “and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve”. The Luke message was delivered to the disciples by the two men who Jesus met on the Road to Emmaus (blog of 4/23/2019). Here the men referred to Peter as Simon using his old name. Jesus also referred to Peter by his old name when He told him he would deny Him three time before the rooster crowed. The prediction of the denial is recorded in both Matthew 26 and Mark 14. The actual denial event is recorded in all 4 gospels, Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and John 18. Peter was not acting with his new believing nature, clinging to the rock of faith which is Jesus, but with the old, impetuous, doubting nature of unbelieving Simon. It shows great compassion from our Lord to singularly appear to Peter to forgive and restore him. Jesus would have known the anguish and guilt Peter was feeling after his denial of Jesus the night before the Crucifixion. The forgiven Peter went onward, never doubting nor denying his Lord and Savior again. Jesus personally knows what we need and seeks to be there for each one of us. What a wonderful, compassionate and loving Savior we serve.
The other post-resurrection appearance that was mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:7 was to James. Scholars believe this was James the half-brother of Jesus and not one of the other followers named James. His brother did not believe in Christ before the resurrection, but afterward became a prominent member of the church in Jerusalem, wrote the book of James and died a martyr’s death in 62 A.D. “Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” This appearance speaks to me of Jesus’ compassion and love for his earthly family and for those who are lost. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”. He knew James needed to see Him personally to be confronted with his unbelief. Jesus does that for each one of us as we seek to come to faith and trust in Him. He is a personal God that loves and cares for each of us.
Is Jesus personal to you today? Do you claim Him as your God and Savior? Mary did in Luke 1:47 “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” Thomas did in John 20:28 “Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” and Paul in Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Let Him hear your words of declaration today as you thank Him for being your God and Savior.