3.4.11.2 The appearances of the Risen One

When Mary Magdalene and other women came to the grave at the break of day, they saw that the stone had been rolled away and that the tomb was empty. They were therefore the first witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus, which had just occurred. An angel announced that Jesus had risen (Matthew 28: 5-6). Later on, the Risen One identified Himself to Mary Magdalene. He also encountered Peter and the other Apostles.

The post-Easter appearances of the Lord document that Jesus Christ is risen indeed. There are specifically named persons to whom He showed Himself and who recognised Him. This refutes any speculation that the disciples had stolen the body in order to fake a resurrection (Matthew 28: 11-15).

When He appeared to the disciples the Risen Son of God gave them direction and instruction for that which lay ahead of them. He taught them and issued them authority and various assignments.

The Lord explained the Scriptures to the disciples of Emmaus and broke bread with them (Luke 24: 25-35).

On the evening of the day of His resurrection He appeared in the midst of His disciples. His greeting: "Peace be with you!" took away their fear and gave them confidence. The Lord then issued the commission to them: "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." As the Risen One and Lord over death and sin, He gave the Apostles authority and power, breathed on them, and said: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20: 19-23).

The Lord appeared to His disciples on another occasion at the Sea of Tiberias. Apostle Peter was given the commission to tend the lambs and sheep of Christ, in other words, the church (John 21: 15-17).

The Risen Lord showed Himself to His Apostles "by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1: 3; cf. John 21: 1-14).

The Apostles brought this testimony of the resurrection of Christ to the whole world. In 1 Corinthians 15: 6, Apostle Paul mentions that the Lord had been seen as the Risen One by more than five hundred brethren at the same time. Then he relates that the Lord had been seen last of all by Paul himself. The events which occurred in front of the gates of Damascus as referenced here (Acts 9: 3-6) are of a different quality, however: this was a revelation of the exalted Christ directly from heaven. However, only those who saw Christ on earth during the time between His resurrection and His ascension are witnesses of Christ's resurrection in the true sense.

See also