Summary: Why did John select these four resurrection appearances. Because they deal with four major areas that need Jesus touch Grief, Fear, Doubt and Remorse
A touch from the Risen Lord
When I first became a Christian 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. (41 years now). And before I was a Vicar I was a patent lawyer.
So I am keen on evidence.
And I do believe I have a reasonable faith
And the more I think about it, the most reasonable explanation for my Christian faith is that Jesus died and rose from the dead.
For that reason Easter is more important than Christmas, because you cannot divorce Christmas from Easter if you are going to have a reasoned faith.
Indeed if Jesus wasn’t a special person, why bother with Christmas - why celebrate the birth of a child born 2,000 years ago?
Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
The Russian Orthodox Church has this wonderful acclamation made three times on Easter Sunday
The Priest says: “He is risen”
And the congregation reply:
“He is risen, indeed”
But how do we know it true?
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)
Yet within about 350 years after the death of Jesus, the Church had revolutionised the known world. This obscure sect of Judaism - as it was known then - endured persecution to became the religion of the Roman world in AD 380.
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).
St. Paul put it like this:
“..if Christ has not been raised from the dead, your faith is futile” (I Cor. 15: 17)
St. Paul, a first Century witness, records the importance of the Easter story.
He wrote this in 1 Corinthians
”For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:
i) that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
ii) that he was buried,
iii) that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and
iv) that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve
After 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. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Cor. 15:3-8).