Where Were the Disciples?

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None of the Gospel writers attempts a systematic account of the disciples’ movements. However, there is sufficient evidence to form a picture of their probable whereabouts on the resurrection morning, and most of the apparent contradictions in the accounts of the resurrection morning are quite readily explained once this matter is resolved.

The night of Jesus’ arrest
When Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane, we are told that his disciples fled (Mt 26:56, Mk 14:50). Peter subsequently followed Jesus to the high priest’s house (Mt 26:58, Mk 14:54, Lk 22:54, Jn 18:15). John records that another disciple also followed Jesus, and being in some way known to the high priest, was responsible for gaining admission to the courtyard (Jn 18:15-6). This ‘other disciple,’ who crops up a number of times in John’s gospel, can be identified by comparing the various references as the gospel’s author, the apostle John.
How could a Galilean fisherman have such influence? John doesn’t tell us, except that his account implies that he was frequently in Jerusalem. However, Mark’s gospel mentions a minor detail about James and John: their father, Zebedee, was apparently wealthy enough to have hired servants working for him (Mk 1:20). A prosperous businessman might well have developed such connections in the city.
So Peter and John apparently stayed in Jerusalem on the night of the betrayal, whereas the other disciples fled. After all, with Jesus arrested, they were clearly frightened that they could be next. We know from the gospel accounts that Jesus and the disciples frequently stayed just outside Jerusalem, in Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ house at Bethany; so there is a good chance they would have gone there.
After his denial, Peter left the high priest’s house in tears (Mt 26:75 [Lk 23:62]). We aren’t told where he went: but the message to the women on the resurrection morning, ‘Go tell his disciples, and Peter,’ (Mk 16:7) implies that he was avoiding the other disciples.
Crucifixion Day
On the day of the crucifixion we are told that the disciples and many of the women watched from a distance (Lk 23:49); the only exception amongst the men being, apparently, John (Jn 19:26). But some of the women ventured closer and were subsequently watching when Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb (Mt 27:61 [Mk 15:47, Lk 23:55]). These included Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of Joses (possibly also wife of Clophas).
Resurrection Day
Some of the women, such as Mary Magdalene and Martha, probably returned to Bethany (it was their home, after all). John had apparently taken Jesus’ mother Mary back ‘to his own’ (Jn. 19:27). The expression here is idiomatic and normally means ‘to his own home’ – again suggesting that John, or his family, did have a place where they could stay at Jerusalem.

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2 thoughts on “Where Were the Disciples?

  1. So ,at crucifixion was John. Judas Iscareotean was gone. Where was te other ten … They were cawords and ran, where? Only the two women were brave and the disciple Jesus loved the most (now we know why…) were there. And that’s a fact.

    Reply
    • Hi, Simona!

      You seem to have missed the answer I gave to your question in the article above under the heading, ‘Crucifixion Day’. Luke’s gospel tells us…
      “But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.” (Luk 23:49)

      So the other 10 disciples were all there. But they were afraid of being arrested – so they watched from a safe distance. All the disciples, including John, ran away at first when Jesus was arrested. Afterwards, John and Peter turned and followed the crowd back to the High Priest’s house. John knew someone who helped them get into the courtyard. But when Peter was recognised he said that he did not know Jesus and then went away in tears.

      So it’s true that all the disciples were cowards; and I think I would have been a coward too. But not long after this they were telling everyone that Jesus was alive; and even beatings, imprisonment and death could not stop them. If they acted like cowards when Jesus was alive, how did they suddenly become so brave? By actually seeing him alive again, or by lying about it?

      Reply

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