Several of the post-resurrection appearances were to specific individuals instead of groups. I previously wrote about Jesus’ encounter with Mary, but today I want to look at Jesus’ appearances 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. Here the men referred to Peter as Simon using his former name. Jesus also referred to Peter by his former 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. This personal appearance to Peter 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. Later, Jesus met a group of disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and spoke more with Peter and his future work in the kingdom. See John 21. Jesus personally knows what we need and is 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 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.” 1 Corinthians 15:7. 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? David did in 2 Samuel 22:3 “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation,” Mary did in Luke 1:47 “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” and Thomas did in John 20:28 “ Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Let Him hear your words of declaration today as you thank Him for being your God and Savior.