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Jefferson’s Bible Was a Page Short - Part 3

Third, this message was proof of the Lord's kindness and mercy. The last time we saw Peter, he was cursing and swearing that he did not even know Jesus. Such a denial under those circumstances would have caused most of us never to want to speak to Peter again—at least not for a long time But Jesus did not write Peter off as a casualty in the war with Satan. He still loved him; in fact He loved unto the end (John 13:1). Thus He came to restore, encourage, and save him from too much self-torture.

Fourth, this message was intended to show all penitent sinners that He loves them too. Peter's story is enjoyable reading for all who have disappointed the Lord and needed to start again (James 5:16). Christ's forgiveness is a very welcome sight to a penitent; a penitent's return is a very welcome sight to Christ (Luke 15).1

Fifth, this message rewarded Peter's resiliency. A lesser man would never have come back to meet his fellow disciples' eyes or accusations. Barclay observed that there is no penitence so bitter and so deep in all the New Testament as when Peter fled weeping into the night after his third denial (Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72; Luke 22:62). Peter bounced back.

Appearance #4: Two disciples on the Emmaus Road saw Jesus alive and walked with Him (Luke 24:13-32). When Jesus met these men, their shoulders were drooping with sadness and their minds were clouded with confusion. When He left them, their step had quickened and the gleam had returned to their eyes. They could not wait till morning to retrace their steps and tell their good news. The road that led to nowhere became the road that led to glory. John Drinkwater wrote,

    Shakespeare is dust, and will not come
    To question from his Avon tomb, And Socrates and Shelley keep
    An Attic and Italian sleep.
    They see not. But, 0 Christians, who Throng Holborn and Fifth Avenue,
    May you not meet, in spite of death 0,- nay et from Nazareth?

These two recognized Jesus in the breaking of bread, which teaches us that there is much to be learned in meditative worship and much to be missed in its absence (cf. Psalm 73; Matthew 18:20; Hebrews 10:25).

Appearance #5: Ten Apostles saw Jesus alive when He entered a closed room (Luke 24:33-49; John 20:19-24). Jesus offered communion. Mark says that they were reclining at a meal and that Jesus ate with them (Mark 16:14). Jesus ate at least twice after His resurrection (Luke 24:42; John 21:13), which shows He was no mirage or spirit.

Jesus offered comfort. John adds that the doors were shut for fear of the Jews, and that Thomas was not with "the twelve"3 (John 20: 19, 24). Their nerves were so on edge that they were "terrifled and affrighted" when Jesus appeared (Luke 24:37). Jesus immediately gave them a message of hope: "Peace be unto you." These were the last words Jesus had spoken to them before going to the cross (John 14:27; 16:33); now they are the first words after the cross (20:19).

Jesus offered  purpose. They felt all was lost, but He showed them all was gained. God's will had been accomplished by the deeds of His enemies, and now they get to join the fight. Their part in the grand drama was really just commencing (Matthew 28:19-20; cf. 5:17-18; Luke 22:44 49). When George Fredrick Handel wrote The Messiah, he collapsed on his desk and said, "It is finished" (cf. John 19:30). But in a sense, it was not finished. It had to be practiced, performed, heard, and enjoyed for its benefit to be realized.  For Jesus to accomplish His desired will on the earth, we too must join the fray; we must carry out the Great Commission (Mark 16:15-16). If we fail in our task, the work of Jesus on the cross fails by the number of people we fail to tell.

Jesus offered redemption. This was redemption for them, as Jesus was giving the opportunity to make up for forsaking Him. It was redemption for Jerusalem, as the apostles were not to regard even the city that crucified Jesus as too wicked to hear the gospel. Even the Jewish leaders who crucified Jesus were to have opportunity to hear and obey (Luke 24:27).

Appearance #6: Eleven apostles saw Jesus alive and examined His wounds (John 20:26-30). Thomas had been absent the first time Jesus appeared to the apostles' group. This time he and his faltering faith were the focus of the appearance. Jesus invited Thomas to touch Him and examine His wounds (John 20:27). Jesus was not critical of his doubts, but He was concerned about them. On another occasion, when a troubled father said, "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief' (Mark 9:23-24), Jesus did not condemn him for being honest about the amount of faith he had at that moment. He simply healed his boy (Mark 9:25-29) and strengthened His faith. We all have to work at our faith; we have to feed it. Paul mentions the "work of faith" (1 Thessalonians 1:3). The faith of the Thessalonians was well known (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8), yet Paul wanted to see them and "perfect" whatever was lacking in their faith (1 Thessalonians 3:10). Here, Jesus perfected what was lacking in Thomas' faith.

This shows us that the disciples were not gullible men eager to believe a hyped resurrection story. They were reluctant witnesses who had to be convinced that what they were seeing was real. Jesus gave them plenty of evidence. In this appearance, He gave them the opportunity to see, touch, and hear Him. Thus three senses were engaged. During the six weeks they interacted with Him after the resurrection

    •They saw His body with the wounds intact.
    •They heard Him speak and recognized His voice.
    •They touched Him. Disciples held His feet (Matthew 28:9); they "handled" Him (1 John 1:1).
    •They saw Him eat a piece of broiled fish and honeycomb, which they gave Him.

- Allen Webster

Glad Tidings of Good Things
Volume 15, March 29
Page 2