Welcome back, friends! What do you suppose the days were like following Jesus’ resurrection? Many had seen Him crucified, and word was spreading about His resurrection. Some had even seen Jesus, putting them at a crossroad: do they now believe in the resurrection and all Jesus had taught them, or do they continue to deny the evidence that stood before them?
Meanwhile, Jews were gearing up for Pentecost, the next major feast, which follows 50 days after Passover. It was during those weeks that Jesus made appearances to many, and we’ve already looked at Jesus’ first appearances and His appearances to His disciples at the Sea of Galilee. But Jesus also appeared to large groups of people.
But first things first, let’s consider how He prepared the disciples for the mission on which they would embark. Matthew 28:16-20 is a familiar passage we know as The Great Commission. There, during one of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances to His disciples, He gave them these instructions:
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Ok, put yourself into the picture. Jesus has come back to life and you see Him bodily. There is no doubt He physically arose. Now this risen Savior is giving you instructions to go and make disciples. Do you think the disciples knew exactly what it meant to go and make disciple of all nations? That must have been somewhat overwhelming.
Sometimes God’s call to us is overwhelming, and we feel inadequately prepared (or even capable) of doing what He is asking us to do, right? Think through the last time God called you to something and you had moments of anxiety about what you heard. In those moments, do you stop to recall that the One who defeated death also promised to be with you to the end of the age? Or do you allow fear to take over?
Yet, the apostle Paul paints a scenario we all need to see. Find 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 in your Bible and read it. (Go ahead…I’ll wait right here!)
Verses 5-8 tells us that Jesus appeared to Cephas (Peter) and 12 others, more than 5,000, then to James and the apostles, and finally to Paul! Jesus cared about people, and He wanted them to have no doubt He was alive. In fact, in verses 3-4, Paul clearly stated what was most important: that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day. It was important!
Is the Gospel message important to you? If so, what’s the proof? Imagine yourself in Paul’s shoes. He went on to be used by the Lord to write about half of the New Testament! Everyone’s role is different and none of us are going to write books of the Bible. But everyone’s role is important. What’s your role?
“Oh, but I’m so unqualified! I’m not skilled…I don’t know enough…I am tarnished by the wrong things I have done…I can’t be used.”
Hold the phone, dear friend! Read again what Paul wrote in verses 9-11. Paul was “the least” and “not fit to be called an apostle,” BUT BY THE GRACE OF GOD! Jesus’ appearance to Paul changed Him dramatically, and so did the grace of God.
Has Jesus ever “appeared” to you? I’m not talking physically (though I do believe He reveals Himself to some in dreams and visions), but in a silent whisper in your heart, or perhaps in a “God moment” when nothing else can explain your experience other than the presence of God. Has His grace ever touched you so deeply you knew without a doubt He was cleaning up the mess of your life, or He was preparing you for a new assignment? Perhaps you just needed a touch of grace from Jesus because you had been wronged or hurt in some way.
Fellow Bible lovers, Jesus knows we still need Him to show up! He appeared to multitudes because it was important for them to see Him and know He was alive. Today, it is equally important, and He appears to us through His Word. Where is your Bible right now? Are you looking at it? If so, Jesus is appearing to you right this very second. He is alive…and He is appearing to you, and you alone, in this moment! Enjoy His appearing!
Join us back here tomorrow morning as we examine Jesus’ return to Jerusalem and His appearances there.