Summary: This sermon looks at the eleven appearances of Jesus to his disciples.
“Jesus is Risen”
For us in the Christian Church the fact of the resurrection of Jesus is the truth that makes or brakes our faith. Without the resurrection we have no need for the Christian Church. The resurrection gives meaning to the CROSS of Calvary. The resurrection verifies the meaning of the CROSS that Jesus died for our sins and provided salvation and access to eternal life.
If Jesus didn’t raise form the dead the entire New Testament is a sham. If Jesus is not who He said He was and is then He was a false teacher, a charlatan or a liar. Can you believe the disciples would carry on a hoax after Jesus ascended into heaven?
The best evidences of truth are eye witness accounts. In the Gospels we have eleven appearances to individuals and groups after Jesus rose from the dead. Let’s briefly look at those appearances of Jesus.
1. An angel appeared to women at the empty tomb. (Mark 16:1-8) Early on Sunday morning, faithful women of Galilee came to the sepulcher to anoint the body of Jesus with spices. They were anxious and challenged because they didn’t know who would be around to roll the stone away so they could anoint the body of Jesus. They were puzzled to see that the very large stone had already been rolled away. Jesus probably walked through the large stone and the angel moved it so others could see that the tomb was empty.
Stooping down the ladies entered the tomb, a chamber of six or seven feet square. They were terrified to see an angel. “Don’t be alarmed,” the angel 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.” “Go tell the disciples and Peter, Jesus is going ahead of you into Galilee.” “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled form the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” (Mark 16:1-8)
2. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene very early Sunday morning. Mary Magdalene had experienced a transformed life. Jesus delivered her of seven devils. She was bold enough to go and tell the disciples, but they would not believe her. (Mark 16:9-11)
The first group of women saw the empty tomb and were confused and told no one. Mary Magdalene saw for herself the risen Lord and told all she saw that she had seen Jesus alive. Unbelieving people can see and hear of many evidences of Jesus, but having a personal fiend who is a Christ follower and honoring Christ in her/his life makes a lasting impact.
3. Jesus appeared to two disciples traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus Sunday afternoon. (Luke 24:13-32) They were discouraged and near despair. They had hoped Jesus was the Messiah and would set up His earthly kingdom. All hope was lost when Jesus was arrested, crucified and buried.
Jesus walked with them and explained to them the Scriptures from the Old Testament concerning Jesus as their Messiah. When they reached their home they sat at the table to have a meal. Jesus their guest became the host and broke the break and gave it to the couple. When they saw the nail prints they recognized Jesus. Indeed he had risen from the dead. Jesus disappeared from their midst and the two that were in mourning became energized and ran from Emmaus to Jerusalem to tell others of the good news.
4. Jesus appeared to Peter in Jerusalem during the day. (Luke 24:34) No details are given of their meeting. Jesus may have wanted to reassure Peter that he was still loved in spite of his denying the Lord three times.
Jesus giving a special appearance to Peter gives us all hope. When are fail the Lord, we have the assurance that Jesus still loves us and is waiting to meet us at the point of our spiritual need.
5. Jesus appeared to the ten disciples in the Upper Room Sunday evening when Thomas was not present. (John 20:19-23) Jesus told them that all He had taught them had come true. All that he taught them would come true. When Thomas came later he said he would not believe unless he saw for himself the nail prints in his hands and his side that been pierced.
6. Ten days later Jesus appeared to the disciples with Thomas present. Jesus addressed Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:27) --- Jesus showed Thomas compassion and not condemnation for not believing. For Thomas just seeing Jesus was enough. He kneels before Jesus and cries out: “My Lord and My God.”
Then Jesus speaks a word to all of us here today: (John 20:29) -- “Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”