3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
In this passage we see the resurrected Jesus appearing to well over 500 people. In any court of law, over 500 witnesses telling the same story will always carry the day. Jewish law required only two witnesses for a claim to be considered true.
But if the sheer number of witnesses is impressive, the effect the Risen Christ had on them is even more so.
Crucifixion and Resurrection are of critical importance
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
Jesus appears to Peter and the other disciples
5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.
Just a few days earlier, Peter had denied Jesus, saying three times that he didn't know Him. As he denied Jesus the third time, the cock crowed just as Jesus had predicted, and Peter was devasted.
Jesus appears to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, then gets alone with Peter.
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." 16 Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." 17 he third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.
The effect was mighty. Peter boldly preaches Jesus (Pentecost). Early church history says Peter was eventually crucified (asking that he be crucified upside down to honor his Savior).
Jesus appeared to the twelve in a locked room, coming right through the wall.
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.
They had been cowering in fear. After meeting the risen Christ, they all serve Him boldly and effectively the rest of their lives. Every one of them except John is martyred. The authorities tried to kill John, but couldn't, because he had further work to do. He had to pen the book of Revelation from exile on the isle of Patmos.
The Jews tried to say that the disciples stole the body. Can you imagine the disciples all dying a martyr's death for a hoax?
Jesus appears to the five hundred
6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
There aren't too many places in the scripture where it is obvious the Risen Christ is appearing to 500 people, so we aren't sure what this is referring to. One event comes to mind, the ascension of Jesus into heaven.
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 "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."
Can you imagine the effect this must have had on the crowd?
Jesus appears to James and the apostles
7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,
James is Jesus' half-brother. Before the crucifixion and resurrection, James didn't believe at all in Jesus. After meeting the Risen Christ, he goes on to become the leader and pillar of the church in Jerusalem.
Finally, Jesus appears to Paul
8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
One moment, Paul is persecuting Christians (on his way to Damascus to arrest and kill them). The next moment he meets the Risen Christ, and becomes a Christian himself. He endures the persecution and imprisonment to proclaim Jesus the rest of his life.
When a person truly meets the Risen Christ, that person is dramatically changed for the better.
Sins are forgiven, chains of bondage are broken, minds are transformed, bodies are healed, joy is given.
Most of you here were lost in your sins, but are now alive in Christ. You've been born again, made new.
Some here have been miraculously set free from addictions. Several have been set free from alcohol addiction.
Some here were lost, then met the risen Jesus, and soon found themselves studying for the ministry.
Many, after meeting the risen Jesus, have died and found themselves in Heaven with their Savior
Some have suffered terrible heartache, but have found comfort in the Risen Jesus.
I woke up this morning feeling fine
I woke up with Heaven on my mind
I woke up with peace in my soul
"Cause I know my God is in control.
Most of us have found that the Risen Jesus is always good, always faithful, always right. He has changed us dramatically for the better. We follow Him, and trust Him explicitly for the future.
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