The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is not just a one day event. Praise God for that!
Have you ever traced the activity of Jesus Christ during the 40 days prior to His ascension to Heaven?
I’ve not but have been challenged to as a follow up to my blog entries last week during Holy Week. The more I dig into the appearance passages, the more I see timeless encouragement for our current circumstances.
Sometimes these passages may seem like puzzle pieces that don’t quite fit together or a timeline that’s just too much trouble to fit into a semblance of order. But that really isn’t the case. As I’ve looked into the passages I can see the timeline, and I’ve gotten helpful backup from other sources. In this blog post I’ll list the order of those appearances and talk briefly about what we can learn from them in general. In subsequent articles I’ll resume a Bible study format to help each of us continue to follow the Lord Jesus.
Here’s the timeline that I offer for your consideration:1
- Resurrection Sunday
- Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18)
- The other Mary, Salome, Joanna and at least one other woman (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10)
- Simon Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5)
- Clopas and companion on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)
- The eleven disciples minus Thomas (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25)
- Eight+ Days after Resurrection
- The eleven disciples including Thomas (John 19:26-29)
- Over the Next Few Weeks
- Seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-23)
- Disciples and a large gathering at a mountain in Galilee (Matt. 28:16-17; 1 Cor. 15:6)
- James (1 Cor. 15:7)
- 40th Day
- Disciples (possibly in Jerusalem before Jesus led them to the Mount of Olives, gave the Great Commission and ascended to Heaven – Luke 24:49-53; Acts 1:3-11)
Today, read what the Apostle Paul says about these appearances:
1 Corinthians 15:3–8
 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,  and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (ESV)
What relevance do these things have for us?
First, Paul says these resurrection appearances are connected back to the Gospel message of our Lord Jesus. Jesus remained on earth for 40 days in order to encourage and empower His discouraged disciples. Those events confirmed the good news of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Death truly was defeated, the eternal life promised in the gospel was real, and hundreds of people could verify that Jesus is alive!
Second, think about the nature of these appearances. The disciples experienced a different kind of connection to Jesus than they had before His crucifixion. The disciples for one didn’t know when Jesus would appear, but when He did show up it turned their despair into glorious light and joy. Isn’t that a bit like life now? These resurrection appearances help us to see that even though it seems like we are alone down here on planet earth, we really are not. The Lord Jesus is always aware of what we face, and He comes to us in our need. The way He comes today is not the same as He did in those 40 days, but I can see how Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever still ministers to us in quarantine like He did then. When we feel like we’re at the end of our resources, we find that Jesus Christ comes again with His grace.
My parting encouragement today: Read these accounts. Seek the Lord Jesus and ask Him to reveal more of Himself to you. Praise Him that He is alive and at work in our days of quarantine, boredom and fears. Jesus is alive!
1) For a helpful article with an actual timeline of these events, see this article from Answers in Genesis.