What God does He does generously. In reading and reflecting on the sequence of events after Jesus’ death and resurrection, it occurs to me that the gospel writers want us to notice something. They want us to understand that Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection not just once, but multiple times.
In John 21, for example, when Jesus shared a post-resurrection fish fry with His disciples beside the Sea of Galilee, John thinks it important to include this little detail:
This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.-John 21:14
Then in Acts (which is essentially the Gospel of Luke, part 2), Luke says,
During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. -Acts 1:3 (NLT)
What’s the big deal? Why would it matter that Jesus appeared to and interacted with His disciples multiple times after His resurrection and before His ascension? How does this help? Well, here’s how.
The multiple appearances of Jesus serve an important evidentiary purpose. Jesus knew full well that that Old Testament required facts to be established by the testimony of 2-3 witnesses (See Deuteronomy 19:15, Acts 10:39-41). It was such a well-known principle that Paul refers to it in 2 Corinthians 13:1,
This is the third time I am coming to visit you (and as the Scriptures say, “The facts of every case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” (NLT)
Simply put, Jesus wasn’t going to ask His followers to believe that He was alive based on one appearance. He knew it was an intellectual stretch for them (and for us) to believe that He was alive even when they had seen His lifeless body on that cross.
To make it abundantly clear that He had in fact died, was buried, and against all odds raised again, Jesus showed up in person bearing His scars on several different occasions, more occasions than you could count on one hand.
Bottom line? Jesus had a burden of proof and He met that burden, and then some. He wanted His followers to be deeply convinced and confident that by believing in Him, they weren’t believing in a hoax. He was no phantom. It was no dream. He was alive, and therefore, their lives were forever changed.
How about you, are you convinced? If not, may I respectfully ask, what else would it take?
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.