Jesus appeared on several occasions to his disciples,
both individually and in groups.

Who Saw the Risen Christ?

The Twelve Disciples

The Eleven Disciples, Matthew 28:16-20
Ten of the Disciples, John 20:19-25
Simon Peter, Luke 24:34-35
Thomas and the Other Disciples, John 20:26-31
Random Walk in a Gallery of Religious Art, Step 53: John 20:24-31, The Doubting Thomas, by Carl Bloch
Seven Disciples, John 21:1-14
Simon Peter in the presence of the Seven, John 21:15-25
Cephas, and then the Twelve, 1 Corinthians 15:5

Others Who Saw the Risen Christ

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The Eleven Disciples, Matthew 28:16-20 (4/9/2010)

Even though the disciples at first thought
Mary Magdalene and the other women were crazy, they apparently changed their minds.  They went to the place in Galilee that “Jesus had directed them,” but a careful reading of the passages we read earlier this week shows that he had directed them by sending his message with Mary Magdalene and company.
All eleven of the disciples went to Galilee, and Jesus appeared to them there.  Matthew, the writer, was one of these eleven eye-witnesses to the event we read about today.  Notice that Matthew is unwilling to name the doubters; possibly he remembered that they had all doubted just a day or two before.

Ten of the Disciples, John 20:19-25 (4/12/2010)

The first verse of today’s reading is of great interest for two reasons.  First, who were these “Jews” that the disciples (all Jews!) were so afraid of?  When the New Testament talks about “the Jews,” it is nearly always talking about the politico-religious leaders of the day, mostly Sadducees but also including some Pharisees.  Although a goodly number of Pharisee converts to Christianity are recorded – Paul and Nicodemus, for example – I can’t think off hand of any named Sadducee converts. The people whom we 21st-century Christians would normally call “Jews” are usually referred to in the New Testament as “the people.”
Second, the disciples were afraid.  One of the most convincing pieces of evidence for the resurrection is that the disciples went from fearfully hiding out from the authorities to boldly speaking out before the authorities, virtually overnight.  They were changed by seeing the risen Christ.

Simon Peter, Luke 24:34-35 (4/15/2010)

On Easter, my sister and I went to our grandparents’ former church in La Grande, Oregon.  An elderly lady came up to us, saying that she recognized my sister but didn’t know her name.  Turns out that the lady and her friends had known several members of our family, although not, actually, my sister or our mother.  I noticed later that when we were telling other people about talking to these ladies at church, our accounts varied a little, even after only a few hours.
Luke’s account of the return of Cleopas and his friend to Jerusalem is a little different from Mark’s.  Mark says the disciples in Jerusalem didn’t believe them.  Luke says that they were greeted with the news that Jesus had appeared to Simon as well.  Jesus – who had been dead – appeared to Simon, and this is all we are told about it. 

Thomas and the Other Disciples, John 20:26-31 (4/19/2010)

Back in the old days when I worked for a living, I wrote several reports that included something about something that “everybody knew.”  I have this hang-up about data and sources, so I actually went to the trouble of finding and reading – and in one case obtaining a translation of – the original report.  And you know what?  What “everybody knew” was wrong – the original sources said something else entirely.
Consequently, I have a lot of empathy for Thomas.  You remember from last week that he did not believe the other disciples when they told him they had seen Jesus.  For this initial skepticism, he has received the name “Doubting Thomas.”  He wasn’t the only one who doubted; he was just the most honest about it.  He wanted to track down the original source.  Having assessed the facts for himself, Thomas decided that everybody was right.  He was the first disciple to recognize Jesus as “my Lord and my God.”

Random Walk in a Gallery of Religious Art, Step 53: John 20:24-31, The Doubting Thomas, by Carl Bloch (8/12/15)

John Wesley points out that not only was Thomas the first to acknowledge Jesus as both Lord and God, but he did so without putting his hand in Jesus’ side as he was invited to do. So I think “Doubting Thomas” is a completely undeserved nickname. Carl Bloch calls him “The Doubting Thomas,” but he also shows him as the only disciple on his knees!

Notice that translations are divided about vs. 29. Many have a statement, not a question, e.g., God’s Word: “You believe because you’ve seen me,” vs. English Standard Version: “Have you believed because you have seen me?” Personally I think the statement makes more sense, but I’m not going to argue about it if you like the question.

Previous Step. Next Step.
The Doubting Thomas. Click to enlarge.
"The Doubting Thomas" by Carl Bloch, now in the private collection of Regina Hunter. Photography by Daryl Lee.

Seven Disciples, John 21:1-14 (4/20/2010)

I’ve caught salmon off the coasts of Oregon and Washington, and I’ve caught halibut off the coast of Alaska.  I’ve caught kokanee at Lake Odell in the Cascades.  I’ve fished (note the change from “caught”) in the Columbia river and a stream or two.  All of this was fishing-pole fishing, not net fishing, so while I always limited out, I usually caught only four fish.  But I always knew exactly how many fish each person on the boat had caught, and how big the fish were.
One hundred fifty-three large fish!  These fellows are in the presence of the risen Jesus, and they count the fish!  This little detail is absolutely convincing to me.
By the way, the “sons of Zebedee” are James and John.  The two unnamed disciples might have been Andrew, who was Simon Peter’s brother, and Philip, who tended to hang out with Nathaniel and Andrew, but nobody knows for sure.

Simon Peter in the presence of the Seven, John 21:15-25 (4/21/2010)

After breakfast, Jesus changes the subject from fish to sheep.  Many ideas have been put forward about why Jesus asks Peter three times “Do you love me?”  The first time, Jesus asks whether Peter loves him more than the other disciples love him.  Ouch.  Peter had previously said that he did (Matthew 26:33), but after denying that he even knew Jesus, that would ring a little hollow now, and he responds only that he loves him.  Since Peter was “deeply hurt” by the third repetition of the question, I sort of incline to the idea that Jesus, knowing Peter had denied him three times, now gives him the chance to profess him three times.  If the reason were important, we would have been told more clearly, so don’t worry about it.
By the way, “the disciple Jesus loved” who “testified to these things” is John.  The “we” in vs. 24 was a sort of advisory committee that was helping John prepare his gospel.

Cephas, and then the Twelve, 1 Corinthians 15:5 (4/22/2010)

The Gospels are not the only record we have of appearances of the risen Jesus.  Paul also records some of these visitations.  I think it’s interesting that Paul mentions them almost as an aside.  He doesn’t seem to be trying to convince so much as to remind us of something that is well known.
By the way, “Cephas” is Simon Peter.  “The twelve” includes Matthias, who was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot.

Others Who Saw the Risen Christ
Mary Magdalene
The Twelve Disciples
Other Disciples
Special Cases and Visions

Copyright 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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