“Can you check with the staff seated in the next counter?”, he asked me. It was early morning and a time when customers slowly begin to trickle into the Bank. A burly customer walked up to my table, let’s call him Shankar, approached me with a query. It was a familiar enquiry, one that I responded to quite often – “What is the procedure to close my account?”. And so I rattled off my answer to him; submit a closure letter, hand over related documents, debit card, et al. After courteously giving him a detailed and comprehensive response, I patiently waited for him to begin submitting his documents for closure. But to my surprise, Shankar turns, looks around and after observing one of my colleagues seated at the far end, he asks me to check with my colleague on how to close an account. Taken aback and a wee bit annoyed, I beckoned my colleague to come over and explain the procedure. My colleague promptly came over and responded with the same answer. Shankar now satisfied with both our responses, subsequently went about to close his account.
Most often like Shankar, we too are not satisfied by what we hear; we need to investigate, analyze for ourselves and confirm the facts to be absolutely convinced before we finally draw our conclusions. The same was true two thousand years ago for a group of disciples.
Mark and Luke recounts in the Gospels of an early morning incident, when the women in haste return from the empty tomb to tell the disciples what they had seen and heard. “She (Mary Magdalene) went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. However when the disciples heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it”1 . Luke narrates that the announcement made by the women “seemed to them like nonsense” 2 . Consequently it was Peter who takes the lead; he gets up and runs ahead to the empty tomb to verify what the women had narrated.
“She (Mary Magdalene) went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. However when the disciples heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it”1
One of the key evidences of Jesus’ resurrection is his post-death appearances. Jesus nullified every doubt that his disciples had of his resurrection by appearing to them – sometimes individually, often in a group, sometimes indoors, other times outdoors and occasionally shared a meal with them. His appearances were not just a momentary or a fleeting visit but they were multiple and have been confirmed by more than one Gospel writer including Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth.
Jesus’ appearances were not just a momentary or a fleeting visit but they were multiple and have been confirmed by more than one Gospel.
- Mary Magdalene: Mark 16.9 and John 20.11-14
- Women at the tomb: Matthew 28.8-10
- Cephas and then to the Twelve: 1 Cor. 15.5
- The two travellers on the road to Emmaus: Mark 16.12,13
- Disciples behind closed doors: Luke 24.36-43 and John 20.19-25
- All the disciples with Thomas: John 20.26-31
- Seven disciples when fishing: John 21.1-14
- Eleven disciples on the mountain: Matthew 28.16-20
- A crowd of 500: 1 Cor. 15.6
- Before Jesus’ ascension: Acts 1.3-9
- James and all the apostles: 1 Cor. 15.7
The common thread in all the above incidences is that one or more persons were utterly convinced that they had seen the Jesus after his death. Peter confirms this in Acts 2:32, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact”. Paul too affirms this in his letter to the Church at Corinth writing that if Christ had not been raised, their preaching was in vain and their faith useless 3 . The disciples too were absolutely convinced they had seen the Risen Saviour.
“God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact”.
Gary Habermas in ‘The Case for Christ’ asserted, “The Resurrection was undoubtedly the central proclamation of the early church form the very beginning. The earliest Christians didn’t just endorse Jesus’ teachings; they were convinced they had seen him alive after His crucifixion. That’s what changed their lives and started the Church. Certainly, since this was their centermost conviction, they would have made absolutely sure that it was true”. 4
The Bible records that initially, Thomas too did not believe that Jesus had risen. One of the reasons being he was not present when Jesus made his appearance to his fellow-disciples after His resurrection. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” 5, Thomas said to the disciples.
Thomas said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” 5,
But a week later as Thomas and the disciples were seated behind locked doors, Jesus comes before them saying, “Peace be with you!” . Aware of Thomas’ unbelief, Jesus tells him, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” 6. It was only when Thomas reached out his hand to touch the scars on Jesus’ hands and feet, Thomas believed.
Thomas, in adoration and worship, declared, “My Lord and my God!”
- Mark 16:10-11
- Luke 24:11
- 1 Corinthians 15:14
- Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ, Pg.235
- John 20:24-25
- John 20:26-27
Originally Published in Engage Quarterly Magazine