Pre-Ascension Appearances and Ministry of the Risen Jesus

Picture by Gin on Unsplash

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26).

The Resurrection was the greatest miracle in all history: Jesus Christ was alive! Over the 40-day period after his resurrection, He appeared to various groups of disciples, proving beyond doubt that He had been raised from the dead by the power of God. Because Jesus rose from the dead with an immortal, physical body, every Christian united with Him has the guarantee of his own bodily resurrection (Philippians 3:21). Here are examples from Scripture of Jesus’s post-Resurrection appearances and ministry.

1. Jesus first appeared to women, including Mary Magdalene, on the Sunday three days after His crucifixion (John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9-10; Matthew 28:9-10). After initially mistaking Jesus for a gardner, Mary Magdalene told the other disciples the good news that Jesus was alive!

2.  Jesus appeared to two men on the Emmaus road (Mark 16: 12-13; Luke 24:13-32).  About four or five hours after Jesus’ Sunday resurrection, He appeared to two men traveling on the road to Emmaus.  Jesus joined in their conversation, and explained to them that the Scriptures were about Himself. 

3.  Jesus appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34).  When the Emmaus road men came back to Jerusalem on Resurrection Sunday evening, the disciples shared with them the news that Jesus had appeared to Peter earlier that day.  

4.  Jesus appeared to ten disciples, excluding Thomas  (Luke 24:37-49; John 20:19-24).  Also on Sunday evening, Jesus appeared to the disciples in Jerusalem, who were initially terrified, thinking He was a ghost.  He demonstrated that he was clearly not a disembodied spirit, showing his hands and feet, inviting them to touch Him, and eating a piece of fish in front of them. 

5.  Jesus appeared to eleven disciples including Thomas (Mark 16:14; John 20:24-29). Eight days later, Jesus appeared to the disciples including doubting Thomas. He invited Thomas to touch the wounds in his hands and side.  Thomas believed and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

6.  Jesus appeared to seven of His disciples on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-25).  Jesus appeared to disciples beside the Sea of Tiberias (a.k.a. the Sea of Galilee) after they had unsuccessfully fished all night.  Jesus told them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat and they caught 153 fish. After eating breakfast together, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him, and concluded with “Follow Me,” and “Feed My sheep”.

7. Jesus appeared in Galilee to commission His disciples (Matthew 28:1-20; Mark 16:15-18).  A mountain on Galilee is where the risen Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

8.  Jesus appeared to over 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). Paul attested that Jesus  was seen not only by Peter, the twelve disciples, James and the apostles, but also by over 500 people at one time.

9.  Jesus appeared at the Ascension (Acts 1:1-11; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-51).  Jesus blessed His apostles at Bethany on the Mount of Olives where they watched him ascend to heaven.  

10.  Jesus appeared to Paul (1 Corinthians 15:8; Acts 9:1-19; 18:9-10; 22:6-10; 23:11; 26:12-18).  Jesus appeared to Paul during Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus; in a vision in Corinth; in a trance while praying in the temple in Jerusalem; and Jesus appeared to Paul while Paul was under arrest after a riot in Jerusalem.

Conclusion

We learn from Jesus that the resurrection is not an event, it is a Person. Eternal life is not an abstract idea, it is a personal relationship. Victory over death is not a future expectation, it’s a present reality. Jesus does more than give life; He is life, and confers eternal life on those who believe in Him. 

Let’s share the Good News!

Prayer

Lord Jesus, your victory over death shows so clearly that you are the long-time promised and much longed for Christ, the Messiah, the fulfillment of all the covenant promises God has made. Knowing everything about you to be true, loosen our grip on earthly treasures and deepen our adoration of you. Thank you for being our Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep and is now caring for us, at the right hand of the Father, with persistent tenderness. What joy, what hope this brings us today! In you we have life eternal and peace that passes all understanding; and so it is with grateful hearts that we worship you. Amen.

Written by Warwick Alcock, Village Schools of the Bible

Acknowledgements

The Nelson Study Bible. Nelson, 1997.

Smith, S. Everyday Prayers. Baker, 2011.

Pre-Ascension Appearances and Ministry of the Risen Jesus

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