The amazing event of the death and the bodily resurrection of Jesus is the single most impactful occurrence in world history. Jesus fulfilled all 333 prophesies in the Old and New Testaments concerning His coming, life, death, and resurrection, proving that Jesus is who He said He is, the Savior, the Son of God. His mission for coming to earth was complete and successful. The last word Jesus spoke before He died was “tetelestai,” meaning “it is finished,” Tetelestai is an accounting term that means “paid in full.” Jesus was declaring the debt owed to His Father was wiped away completely and forever.
Jesus did not immediately go to Heaven; instead, he stayed for 40 days before His ascension. He appeared several times as the resurrected Christ to various sets of people. He did this to make sure that there were thousands of eye witnesses, that people knew that Jesus was alive, that the writers of history of that time recorded truth, and to spend more time with the disciples clarifying their future responsibilities.
Jesus’ first appearance was on Sunday. Mary went to the empty tomb. An angel spoke to her, saying that Jesus was not there, and instructed her to go and tell the disciples and Peter what she had seen. At first the disciples didn’t believe her but ended up running to see the empty tomb. Mary Magdalene went with the disciples, and after they left, she remained. Mary Magdalene was healed by Jesus and became a friend and follower. Jesus chose Mary to be the one to whom He would first reveal Himself in His resurrected state.
“When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it” (Mark 16:9-11).
Jesus also miraculously appeared to two men while they are walking to a small village called, Emmaus. He explained to them all the Biblical verses that pertained to him. They did not know that they were talking with Jesus. God opened their eyes to recognize Him when He broke bread with them, and then He vanished.
“Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him” (Luke 24:13-15).
Jesus appears to the disciples who were hiding from the Jewish leaders in fear of their lives. For reasons unknown, the disciple named Thomas was not with the group at this time. Then Jesus went back again when Thomas was present and showed him the nail marks in His hands. He believed.
“Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (John 20: 19-23).
For weeks, Jesus appeared to over five hundred people at one time after his resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:6)
Jesus showed himself to seven of his disciples while they were fishing on Lake Galilee. Peter said there were no fish to catch. Jesus instructed Peter, John, and James to throw out his net. Jesus filled it with 513 fish. Jesus made them a bread and fish breakfast!
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead” (John 21:9-14).
On the day of Pentecost, the birth of the New Testament church occurs when God gives his spirit to more than 3,000 people (Acts 2)! Jesus’ ministry after his resurrection set the groundwork for the beginning of the healthy Christian church!
Today, Jesus’ message to churches of today is the same as it was to the disciples:
The Great Commission “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:16-20).
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven”(Acts 1:8-11).