Summary: There are four barriers to fauith that the four resurrectiuons stories in John mirror. Grief, fear,doubt and failure. Jesus deals with all in his own inimicable way
The Resuurectiuon of Jesus Christ is the watershed of the Chrsitain faith
Story: It was the late Professor Charlie Moule who said that
"the birth and rapid rise of the Christian Church ... remains an unsolved enigma for any historian who refuses to take seriously the only explanation offered by the church itself - the Resurrection."
Story: A few years ago Maddy and I went to Pfarrwangen in Switzerland to visit a good friend who is the Swiss Reform pastor there - Philipp Nanz and his wife Suzy. And while Maddy and Suzy went horse riding, Philip and I went for a walk. And we started discussing Islam, and then got onto the subject of what makes Christianity distinctive? How does Christianity differ from other religions?
And we came to the conclusion that the answer lies in the Easter story.
No other religion has ever claimed that its leader rose from the dead. No one has claimed that Jesus rose from the dead
Yet millions of Christians down the centuries not only have claimed that but that they have a relationship with Him
St. Paul - who was nobody’s fool - had this to say about the centrality of the Resurrection:
3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance :
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.
6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Cor. 15:3-8).
When you add that up you get at least 514 men.
And that doesn’t include the women like Mary Magdalene who also saw the risen Jesus.
So if the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a CENTRAL PILLAR of our faith
- after all it is central to our three main CREEDS-
have you ever wondered WHY St John ONLY mentions FOUR post Resurrection appearances of the Risen Jesus.?
In John 20 we read of three of these.
Here John records how Jesus appeared to
i) to Mary Magdalene
ii) to all the disciples except Thomas and finally
iii) to Thomas
And in the following Chapter, John 21 we read of Jesus appearing to seven disciples including Peter, James and John, Thomas, Nathanael and two unnamed disciples. And it was there that Jesus recommissions Peter to lead his Church
Surely - one might argue - if the resurrection is such a big deal, why didn’t John add many more of the stories of these encounters?
At the very least – why didn’t he simply catalogue when, where and who had seen the risen Christ. Surely that would make interesting reading.
1. Have you ever wondered what the reaction of James -Jesus’ brother - was when Jesus appeared to him.
2. Have you ever wondered if Jesus appeared to Nicodemus - the Jewish rabbi who had sought him out at night in Jn 3 and who had helped Joseph of Ari-math-ea to bury Jesus.