Summary: Why is Jesus' post Resurrection appearance to Mary Magdalene one of John's four post Resurrection stories
TSJ and TSL 22-07-2018
A touch from the Risen Lord
If John’s Gospel had finished with Chapter 19, it would not be something special.
All biographies generally end with the death of the person who is the subject of the book.
Imagine if it had been with the Gospels. The chances are we would probably not have bothered much with them. Merrill Tenney put the matter like this:
“The picture of Jesus would have been of a man with exceptional character, who made extraordinary claims and whose sincerity could not be reasonably doubted. Nevertheless the main narrative would have been closed with a sense of frustration. His claims would have been negated, his aspirations would have been unrealised and his teaching would have been too lofty to be true.
The major difference between the life and teachings of Jesus and any other of the great religious leaders lies in the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and the others did not, however persistent their influence may be”
(NIV Bible Commentary p.366 Barker and Kohlenberger)
Or put more simply, the key to understanding the Christina faith lies not simply in understanding Jesus teaching but in knowing that Jesus rose from the dead.
This is not a blind faith, it is one that has sound reasoning behind it.
There is a very good book called “ Who moved the stone” by Frank Morison, if you would like to root around more to see the evidence of the Resurrection.
The author states at the beginning that he was an atheist when he started to write the book.
Frank Morison had hoped that the book would be the final nail in the coffin of reasoned Christianity.
But when he looked into the historical data his mind was changed and he wrote one of the best apologetics book in 20th Century.
When I first became a Christian, some people said that we needed to have blind faith to become a Christian
You simply had to believe what was written in the Bible
And while that may apply when you first become a Christian, Peter tells us to
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15
Or put another way, we have a faith that is reasonable.
I have now been a Christian since 1972. (46 years now).
And before I was a Vicar I was a patent lawyer.
So I am keen on evidence.
And the more I think about it, the most reasonable explanation for my Christian faith is that Jesus died and rose from the dead.
A former English judge, Lord Darling said speaking about the resurrection fo Jesus Chrsit said this
” In its favour as living truth, there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true “ p. 40 of Nicky Gumbel’s Questions of Life
Most Sundays many of us profess our faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead when we say the words of the Creed:
“ I believe ..….in Jesus Christ,
his only Son our Lord who was
Conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead and buried
He descended into Hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead”
(The Apostles Prayer - BCP)
But do we know why we believe it
I believe it because of the impact the Christian Church has had in the world.
When Jesus was crucified on the Cross, his band of followers were scattered.
After all, Galilee was a hotbed of unrest and false Messiahs sprang up everywhere.
And once they were killed, their movements died with them.
Gamaliel the famous Jewish rabbi once said this about such leaders:
“Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”(Acts 5:34-39)
Professor Charlie Moule, the famous NT theologian once said:
"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." (C.F.D. Moule, The Phenomenon of the New Testament).