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Jefferson’s Bible Was A Page Short - Part 2

The appearances were a reward for belief History says that there were more than a million Jews in Jerusalem for the Passover when Jesus was resurrected. In contrast to His second coming, when "every eye shall see him" (Revelation 1:7), only a relative handful saw Him then. Not counting the five hundred who saw Him at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6), less than twenty are named as having seen Him after the resurrection. Who were they? Why did they get to see Jesus when others did not?

As far as we know not a single unbeliever saw Jesus after His death. He appeared to every one of His close friends and to other believers, but not a single enemy got to see Him. "They also that pierced him" (Revelation 1:7) will see Him at the end of time, but they did not get to see Him fresh from the grave. Had the story been invented, Jesus would have gone to Pilate, Caiphas, and the Sanhedrin and had the last laugh. He would have climbed the temple and spoke to the masses. But Jesus only visited small groups of believers in remote areas or indoors. These private rendezvous bolstered the flickering faith of those who would be the witnesses to His deity.

Why limit His visitations to friends? Perhaps a clue can be found in His words to once-skeptical Thomas: "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believe& blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29). The greater blessing is for those. of us who believe by seing only with the eye of faith.

THE APPEARANCES LOOKED AT INDIVIDUALLY.

Mary Magdalene saw Jesus alive early Sunday morning (Mark 16:9; John 20:11-16). If men had been making a list of those who got to see the resurrected Lord, Mary Magdalene would not have been on it Jesus, though, thought she was important enough to put at the top of His (Mark 16:9).

Jesus first appeared to the one who perhaps loved Him most. We must first meet Mary Magdalene before Jesus became a part of her life (Luke 8:2). She appears a friendless, scorned, poor, and emotionally hurt woman. Jesus rid her of seven devils, and she never forgot it.

Mary Magdalene personifies the love and the devotion of one who owed everything to Jesus, and who knew it. She stands in the center of almost every scene in Jesus' passion.

    •She was there at the foot of the cross (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25).
    •She was there when they laid Jesus in the tomb (Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47).
    •She was there at the tomb, the first to arrive on resurrection morning (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10; John 20:11).

In this scene, she is heartbroken. She has lost her closest friend to death, and, worse, she thinks that His body had been stolen (John 20:11-18). She wept uncontrollably. Then she saw Him! Her winter turned to summer; her broken heart was mended.

Three "other women" saw Jesus alive at the tomb (Matthew 28:9-10). These included the "other Mary," not Jesus' mother, but James and Joses' mother (Mark 16:1; cf. 15:40). Jesus' mother is not mentioned as visiting the grave. The beloved disciple had taken her to his own home (John 19:27) and possibly hindered her from going to "the grave to weep there" (cf. John 11:31). He could have interpreted Jesus' words from the cross as meaning, "Take her away from here, to spare her further grief."

Mark also says that "Salome" was there (16:1). She was Zebedee's wife, the mother of James and John. And Joanna, wife of Chusa, Herod's steward was with them (Luke 24:10; cf. 8:3).

These women were sympathetic and kind, and along with Mary Magdalene, were more dedicated than any others during these long, hard hours. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had not been on His side until after His death. The disciples forsook Him before, during, and after the death and burial.

The apostles may not have thought the women very important (they thought their words were idle tales [Luke 24:11]), but they were important to Jesus. He appeared to them before He did to any of the twelve disciples. Their names are recorded in the most important book ever written. Matthew Henry made another interesting point here: "As Christ in the grave was beloved of the saints, so the saints in the grave are beloved of Christ.  Death and the grave cannot slacken that bond of love which is between them."  If you are a dedicated, faithful, regular, consistent member of Christ's church, God notices your efforts and will reward your service (1 Corinthians 4:5).

Peter saw Jesus alive later that Sunday (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5; cf. Mark 16:7). Mark's biography takes special notice of Peter, and it was Mark alone who recorded the angel's words, "Tell Peter" (Mark 16:7). Why this special mention? "Tell his disciples and Peter" does not mean that Peter was not still a disciple. The meaning is, "Tell his disciples, and especially Peter." Before Peter's fall, Jesus had prayed for him that his faith should not fail (Luke 22:32); and as the prayer of Jesus was always heard (John 11:42), Peter still retained faith sufficient to be a disciple, though he fell into sin.

Now Peter merits a special appearance (Luke 23:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5). Why single out Peter by name and then appear to him alone? First, Peter might have feared that this good news did not pertain to him. Had the angel said only, "Tell his disciples," Peter would have been likely to sigh and say, "I doubt He still looks at me as a disciple, for I disowned Him, and deserve to be disowned by Him."

Second, this good news would be most welcome to him. It will be good news to all the disciples, but especially to Peter who was sorrowing over denying the Lord. Jesus rose for sinners' justification (Romans 4:25), so news of His resurrection is especially sweet to those mourning sin.

Allen Webster

Glad Tidings of Good Things
Vol 15, March 12, 2009, page 2