Friday, July 8, 2011

Who Witnessed the Resurrection?

The absolute evidence of our Christian Faith is the Resurrection of Jesus. If Christ has not risen, stated the Apostle Paul, our Faith is futile.

"He has risen! He is not here."
  (Art by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1825-1905)

Paul writes a powerful epistle about AD 55 to the Corinthians at the end of his three year ministry in Ephesus. He lists the witnesses who saw the resurrected Jesus: Peter, the apostles, 500 men and women, James, the apostles again, and himself, Paul. 
v3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born (1 Cor 15:3-8 NIV).

Very Early on the First Day!”

Mark writes his gospel AD 55-65 to the Christians in Rome. He lists Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome (Mark 16:1-8) as visiting the tomb on the first day of the week. An angel spoke to them. 
v6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:6 NIV).
Early Christians likely added the closing affirmations (Mark 16:9-20) to Mary Magdalene and the Eleven, but these are listed in the other gospels, as well.

The Physician Luke writes AD 60 to the Gentiles. He repeats the initial discovery at the tomb involving Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and others who were with them. 
He also mentions Peter's visit to the tomb. In detail, he relates the story of Cleopas and the other disciple on the road to Emmaus who meet Jesus.

Stay With Us, For it is Nearly Evening!”

v30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:30-32 NIV).

Luke writes how surprised the apostles were to see Jesus when he appeared to them in the upper room.

v44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24: 44 NIV).

There Was a Violent Earthquake!”

Matthew writes AD 60-65 to the Jews. He re-mentions Mary Magdalene and the other Mary joyfully meeting Jesus at the tomb.

v8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him (Matt 28:8-9 NIV).

John writes AD 85-90 to the Early Christians. He relates the initial discovery of Mary Magdalene, the resulting visit of Peter and John, himself, to the tomb. He tells of Mary Magdalene, thereafter, meeting Jesus outside the tomb and then of Jesus appearing to the apostles in the upper room.

My Lord and My God!”

Thereafter, Thomas enters doubting and in a touching scene Jesus appears to him.

v26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20: 26-28 NIV).

Throw Your Net on the Right Side of the Boat!”

While the apostles were fishing at the Sea of Tiberias (Sea of Galilee), Jesus appears to Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John, and two others. Jesus feeds them breakfast and reaffirms Peter.

v15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15 NIV).

--Bill Hunt

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