The number of the Lord’s appearances during the forty days following the resurrection, before His ascension, is generally said to be nine. Of these, five were on the day of the resurrection, one on the Sunday following, two at some later period, and one when He ascended. As to place, five were in Jerusalem, one in Emmaus, two in Calilee, and one perhaps on the Mount of Olives.
If to these we add the appearance to James (mentioned only by the apostle Paul in I Cor. 15:7), which probably was at Jerusalem; then add also the appearance to Paul mentioned in I Cor. 15:8, we have eleven appearances. Most writers come to this conclusion, differing only on some fine points concerning some of the appearances.
However, we do not need to say that these recorded and stated appearances were the only actual ones. Acts 1:3 “To whom he also showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs; appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God.”
It is quite possible that there were other unrecorded appearances during this period of fifty days.
I. The appearances on the day of the resurrection. (5)
A. To Mary Magdalene, at the Tomb, just outside Jerusalem.
1. Problem of when was this, at what time in the morning?
a. How to harmonize Mart. 28:1 with Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1 and John 20:l. The first part of the verse must be interpreted by the added
specification of what is added in the last part of the verse.
b. When did the women arrive at the tomb!
1. Luke says, “Very early in the morning.”
2. John says, “early, while it was yet dark.”
3. Mark says, “and very early on the First day of the week”
4. Matt. says, “as it began to dawn, toward the first day of the week.”
c. We must consider where they came from. Probably from Bethany about two miles away.
d. The time was probably about 5 A.M. for at this time of the year the sun would rise about 5:30 A.M. Objects would be discernible one-half hour before sunrise very likely.
3. Wieand Harmony places the appearance to Peter first.
4. Lightfoot supposes one of the two at Emmaus to have been Peter.
a. Since there are not actual details given, it is hard to harmonize the accounts.
b. From Luke 24:34, it seems as if Jesus did appear to Simon (if the Simon talked of is Peter) before He did to the two disciples at Emmaus. McGarvey harmonized this verse with I Cor. 15:5.
D. Jesus appears to the two Disciples going to Emmaus. Mark 16:12, 13; Luke 24:13-35.
1. Who were these two disciples! One was Cleopas, of whom nothing further is known. Luke 24:18)
a. Some say the other was Luke, for he writes almost like one that might have been present during this experience.
b. Lightfoot (mentioned above) supposes him to be Peter.
2. About Earmaus and its location from Jerusalem.
a. Luke 24:13, “village named Emmaus which was three score furlongs from Jerusalem.”
1. How far is this! If the ruins called el Kukeibeh is the ancient city of Emmaus, then it would be a distance of seven and
thirteen-sixteenths of a mile from Jerusalem. The village has not yet been identified beyond dispute.
2. Time of this meeting. Probably leaving Jerusalem about noon, and allowing for a slow walk, they would arrive in Emmaus a good while before sundawn.
3. Although the Lord met these two while on their way, their eyes were holden until the meal was being eaten. Luke gives the cause in Luke
24:31, “And their eyes were opened and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.” Mark gives the affect or their reaction in Mark 16:13,
“And they went away and told it unto the rest; neither believed they them.”
E. Jesus appears to the ten. Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25.
1. Thomas is absent at this time.
2. Place and time!
a. Place- In Jerusalem. In all probability, they were gathered in the same room in which they had eaten the paschal supper.
3. Problem: did Mary come alone or with others and perhaps run on ahead so that she was first at the tomb! She undoubtedly came with the rest. Then, seeing the stone rolled away, she ran immediately to tell John and Peter before even going to the tomb.
a. When telling Peter and John, Mary used the pronoun we signifying that she was not alone.
b. After telling Peter and John she returned to the tomb, probably following Peter and John. Then while she was alone outside the tomb the Lord appeared to her.
4. John writes of this appearance in detail, Jolm 20:11-18.
a. The account is personal to Mary.
b. She alone acknowledged the questions of Jesus.
c. Jesus addressed her in the singular.
B. The other women soon after appearing to Mary; while they are on their way to tell the message of the angels. (Matt. 28:9, 10)
1. Who were these other women! How many were there! (Lk. 24:9-11)
a. Mark 15:41, saysthatmzmyotherwame~ came up to Jerusalenn.
b. These names are motioned: Mary Magdalene, Mary, mother of James, Salorne, Joanna, Susanna imd “many others.
1. John mentions only Mary Magdalene.
2. Matt. mentions Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary.” Matt. 28.1.
3. Mark mentions Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome.
4. Luke mentions Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of lames, and the “other women.” Thus we see there are five, and possible others.
2. Many variations of order are given for this account, due to our not being able to tell whether these women arrived at the tomb in one or two groups.
C. Jesus appears to Peter. (I Cor. 15:5; Luke 24:33, 34)
1. McGarvey places this before the appearances to the two disciples on the road to Emunaus and at Emmaus.
2. R. C. Foster writing in Standard Bible Tearhev, Vol. 38, No. 2; Apr.-May-June 1936, article “The Risen Christ in Galilee” places this
appearance after the Emmaus appearance.
a. Time — In the evening, fbr the two disciples who went to Emmaus arrived back in time to tell them of their experience.
3. The actual appearance of Jesus in the room.
a. John writes that when they saw Jesus they were glad.
b. Luke writes that they were terrified and frightened.
c. Why the apparent difference!
1. Luke tells the immediate reaction as Jesus stands in the midst of them. How did he get here! They knew nothing of the
possibilities of a resurrected body.
2. John tells their attitude after they had been satisfied this was not a ghost, but their Lord!
II. Jesus appears to the eleven, Thomas being present this time. Mark 16:14; John 20:26-31; I Cor. 15:5,
A. When and Where! In Jerusalem, probably the same as where Jesus appeared to the to. When! The first day of die week. (Jn. 20.26).
B. Main object ofthought. Getting Thomas to believe
1. While so doing, this was also reassuring proof the others.
2. Thomas asked to place his hand into Jesus’ side.
a. Thomas’ answer, “My Lord and my God !” (Jn. 20:28).
III. Jesus appears to the Seven disciples by the Sea of Galilee. John 21:1-25. Only John records this incident.
A. Time – Some suggest the next Lord’s Day
B. The seven disciples: Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James and John, and two other disciples.
C. Order of events that happened:
1. Peter and the others probably gathered in Peter’s home in Capernawn.
2. This waiting made then impatient. Thinking of an honest means of getting food, Peter said “I am off to fish tonight.” The rest join in,
‘We are going with you.”
3. With all the old enthusiasm they go fishing, but luck was against them that night, remindfUl of an experience three years earlier.
4. At early moming someone appeared on the beach and asked, “Lads, have you anything to eat!” Their answer was, “No!”
a. Advice from the man on the shore. “Cast on the right side of the boat.”
b. The results: 153 fishes were caught in the net.
c. John at this, turned to Peter and said, “it’s the Lord.”
d. Peter immediately started swimming for the shore.
e. They all had fish forbreakfast.
5. Jesus turned to Simon Peter and probed the recesses of Peter’s heart to secure for him the humility necessary for service.
6. Peter asks about John.
a. Jesus’ answer: John 21:221 “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee! Follow thou me.
IV. Jesus appears to the five hundred in Galilee. Matt. 28:16-20; I Cor. 15:6.
A. Problem: Some would separate this appearance, and make two appearances here, one to the eleven separately, then to the eleven as counted with the five hundred.
a. If Jesus gave the Great Commission at this time, would he give it to the eleven gathered together with so large a group!
b. But in Matt. 28:17, “some doubted,” could be evidence that the groups were together.
c. Solution, if we separate these two appearances it eliminates this problem.
B. Where is this mountain that is spoken of in Matt. 28:16!
1. Some possible places: The Place of the Sermon on the Mount; The Mount of Transfiguration; The place where He choose the twelve, The place on the east side of the lake where Jesus fed the 5.000.
V. Jesus appears to James. I Cor. 15:7.
A. No details given of this appearance.
B. Who is this James!
1 . Possibly one of Jesus’ half-brothers, who had been converted after the resurrection.
2. Later served as pastor of the Church at Jerusalem.
VI. Jesus appears to the eleven in Jerusalem and leads them to the place of Ascension. Mark 16:19, 20; Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:2-12.
A. Luke, who also wrote Acts, gives us the account of this in both of his writings, one a continuation of the other.
B. What Jesus told them at this time.
1. Charged them not to depart from Jerusalem.
2. For continuity and the progressive nature of the Lord’s redemption work (Not only in seeing the Lord in His resurrected body, but most important, hearing what He taught after His resurrection.
JOHN 21 IN REVIEW
The final chapter shows Christ as the Master of our service and the Friend of sinners. Were it not for this chapter, we would wonder what happened between Peter and the Lord and whether or not his disobedience was really dealt with.
I. A Night of Defeat (21:1-3)
Some make the strong suggestion that Peter acted without orders in returning to his fishing, that he had forsaken all to follow Christ (Luke 5:1-11), and now he was turning back to the old life. This is not certain, though Peter is definitely called back into service to His Lord.
Everything about this scene speaks of defeat:
(1) it is dark, indicating that they are not walking in the light;
(2) they had no direct word from the Lord;
(3) their efforts met with failure;
(4) they did not recognize Christ when He did appear, showing that their spiritual vision was dim.
How tragic is a bad influence! We need to keep in mind that God blesses us only when we abide in Christ and obey the Word. “Without Me you can do nothing” (15:5). Too many Christians enter into well-meaning but unscriptural activities, only to waste time, money, and energy for nothing. Let us beware of impatience. It is better to wait on the Lord for directions, and then let Him bless, than to involve ourselves in useless activities.
II. A Morning of Decision (21:4-17)
When Christ appears on the scene, then the light begins to shine. He instructs them from the shore, and they catch a great host of fish! A few minutes’ labor with Christ in control will accomplish more than a whole night of carnal efforts! It is interesting to compare this miracle with the one at the beginning of Peter’s career in Luke 5:
Luke 5 John 21
1. Followed a night of failure 1. Followed a night of failure
2. No exact number of fish given 2. 153 fish (v. 11)
3. The nets began to break 3. The net did not break
4. Christ instructed from the boat 4. Christ instructed from the shore
Some see in these scenes a picture of the church today (Luke 5) and of the church at the end of the age when Christ returns (John 21). Today we are casting out the Gospel net, but often the nets break, there is seeming failure, and we do not know how many souls are really won. But when Christ returns the exact number will be known, and none will be lost. Today there are many boats and fishermen at work, but when Christ returns, we will see the one church and all the redeemed in the one Gospel net.
There are actually several miracles in this chapter, besides the catch of fish. Peter is given miraculous strength to draw up a net that seven men were not able to draw together (v. 6 and v. 11).
The fact that the net did not break is amazing. The fire of coals and the cooked breakfast were certainly supplied miraculously. The entire scene was designed to awaken Peter’s conscience and open his eyes. The catch of fish reminded him of his past decision to forsake all and follow Christ. The fire of coals would take him back to his denial (John 18:18). The location—the Sea of Galilee—reminded him of several past experiences with Christ: feeding the 5,000, walking on the water, catching the fish with the coin, stilling the storm, etc.
Because Peter had denied Christ three times publicly, he had to make it right publicly. Note that Christ fed Peter before He dealt with his sins. How like the Lord to bless us first, then deal with us! The issue was Peter’s love for Christ.
If a man really loves Christ, his life will be devoted and dedicated. Note that Christ gives Peter a new commission: he is now a shepherd (pastor) besides being a fisher of men. (See 1 Peter 5.) He is now to shepherd the lambs and sheep and feed them the Word of God. All Christians are expected to be fishers of men (soul-winners), but some have been called into the special ministry of shepherding the flock. What good is it to win the lost if there is no church where they might be fed and cared for?