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This page continues our examination of the New Testament evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.

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So far we have looked at the women’s testimony concerning their discovery of the empty tomb and encounters with the angels and with Jesus. We will now go on to consider the other evidence.

1. The mystery of the empty tomb.

The visit of Peter and John.
John relates how he and Peter found the grave empty; but the graveclothes positioned in a manner that convinced them that these could not have been simply removed from a dead corpse. This was in spite of the fact that they did not yet realise that Jesus’ resurrection had been predicted.
The Forgotten Tomb.
No further interest is shown in the tomb itself after the resurrection morning. This leads us to the conclusion that it was empty, that the authorities did not know where the body was, and that as far as the Christians were concerned it was no longer relevant. They were more interested in the risen Christ.

2. Early Encounters in Jerusalem.

The Emmaeus Road.
Two disciples were leaving Jerusalem, dispirited and perplexed over the news they had heard. A man meets them who explains how Jesus’ resurrection had been foretold. When he breaks bread with them that night, they finally recognise him: and he suddenly vanishes!
Peter’s Private Audience.
Sometime that same day, it is reported that Jesus also appeared to Peter, although no details of that intensely personal meeting appear to have been made public.
The Upper Room.
That night, Jesus appears to the disciples in a locked upper room, showing them his wounds, letting them handle him, and even eating food.
Doubting Thomas.
Thomas, who was absent that night, swore he wouldn’t believe it unless he put his own finger in the nail marks and his hand in the spear wound. A week later Jesus appears, quoting Thomas’ words back at him, and inviting him to do it.

3. The Galilee Appearances.

On Jesus’ instructions, the disciples go to Galilee; where Jesus shows them ‘many convincing proofs’ of his resurrection. During this time he taught them and even ate with them. The gospels contain descriptions of two of these meetings.

A Miraculous Catch of Fish.
Following an unsuccessful night’s fishing, Jesus is seen on the shore. He tells them where to cast their nets, and they catch so many fish the boat nearly sinks! On reaching shore, they find Jesus making breakfast. There follows an intimate conversation with Peter.
A Meeting on the Mountain.
During a meeting on a Galilean mountain (sometimes confused with the Ascension), Jesus commands the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations and promises to be with them always.

4. The Ascension.

About 40 days after the resurrection they return to Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, where Jesus ascends from the earth until taken out of sight by a cloud. Two men in white then appear, promising that he will one day return in the same manner. After this, there are hardly any reported appearances. But soon an outpouring of miraculous events heralds the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the church enters a period of explosive growth.

5. Post-Ascension Appearances.

Following the ascension there were very few appearances. Indeed, there is some debate as to whether the first three of the following took place before or after it. However, Paul’s own encounter clearly must have done so.

500 at Once!
Paul records that on one occasion Jesus appeared to over 500 men at once, adding that the majority of these are still alive at the time of writing.
James.
Jesus also appeared to James, Jesus’ brother; though we do not know the precise timing or circumstances of this event.
All the Apostles.
Later on, Jesus appeared to ‘all the apostles’. We know little of this, except that it apparently involved more than the original twelve apostles.
Paul.
Paul is travelling to Damascus to arrest Christian ‘heretics’ when he sees a light from heaven and hears Jesus speaking to him. His companions also see the light and hear the voice, but cannot understand it. He is blind for three days until prayed for by a local disciple. His experience turns him from a fanatical opponent to one of Christianity’s foremost advocates.

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