10 Times Jesus Appeared After His Resurrection

He died and rose three days later. But the in-between before He ascended into heaven, seems a little cloudy.

For years, I just always assumed that Jesus ascended straight to heaven after Mary (mother of Jesus) and Mary Magdelene found the empty tomb. There are several accounts of Jesus visiting others before His ascension. Here is a small list to get you started!

1. The Five Hundred Believers

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:6

Here we have the largest amount of people who saw Jesus at one time post-resurrection. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 19:15, “In the mouths of two or three witnesses let a thing be established.” Two eyewitnesses can usually convict a guilty person. Deuteronomy 17:6 reads, “Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 500 is a lot of people! It is a lot of eyes on the resurrected Savior and should give us high confidence in the truth of His resurrection.

There will always be people who say that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. Paul assures us that many people saw Jesus after His resurrection: Peter, the 12 disciples, more than 500 believers referred to here, James, Jesus’ half-brother, all the apostles, and Paul himself. Josh McDowell wrote “Evidence That Demands A Verdict.” Lee Strobel wrote “The Case For Christ.” Both books help to settle the issue that Christ is alive and well today.

The resurrection is a historical fact. Our whole faith rests on this truth; that Christ is alive. It is what makes Christianity so different from all the world’s religions. When you went to the tomb the other day, Christ was not there. Yet every other religious leader is dead and buried somewhere.

Today you can talk to Jesus. He listens! Why? Because He Lives!

2. Peter at the Sea of Galilee

Scripture Reading: John 21:15-19

Weary. Discouraged. Confused. How quickly things changed for the disciples once Jesus advised them to “cast the net on the right side of the boat.” With a substantial breakfast in their bellies and hope restored in their hearts, Jesus decided Peter was now ready for the next step. But moving forward must have felt like a step back.

Peter had to have wondered why, three times, Jesus asked him why he loved Him. By the third inquiry, Peter was grieving. With a heavy heart, he may have recounted the three times he publicly denied his Lord. The missed opportunities. The fears over his future. The nagging self-doubts that he just couldn’t cut it as a follower of Jesus and was better off as a fisherman. But because this conversation occurred at daybreak, I see this as a season of new beginnings for Peter.

For Peter to “Feed My lambs,” “Shepherd My Sheep” and “Feed My Sheep,” Jesus wanted Peter to know He knew Peter loved Him. With each asking a question, Jesus was increasing Peter’s responsibilities. Take care of new believers. Guide them. Help them grow into mature believers. Do for them what I’ve done for you.

Sometimes our past prevents us from moving forward, but Jesus says to use your pain for a purpose. To help others know of the love and forgiveness offered by Jesus, we must remember it’s right for ourselves. How? By accepting Jesus’ invitation to “Follow Me!”

3. Paul

Scripture Reading: Acts 9:1-5; 1 Corinthians 15:8

What do a high-horse, a soapbox, and a Messiah complex have in common?

Me – and you – at times. We know what is right because we’ve read the Bible and the Holy Spirit, if we have listened, has breathed His truth into our world, changing our outlook and giving us a heavenly perspective on life. When presented with a moral dilemma we have a weighted view on the matter based on our Holy Spirit morality compass. If we’re super smart, we also bring the matter into the presence of the Lord and let it sit there with Him, asking Him for more of His perspective aside from our knee-jerk reading of that morality compass.

See, sometimes our compass can deviate us from the right direction. A literal compass can cause deviation when there is a magnetic disturbance – it’s drawn or pulled from what is true. The same is true for us – disturbances can pull us from His direction for our lives, and because we become more focused on how right we are as opposed to keeping our eyes on the One who is righteousness, we become so right that we’re wrong. We take a moment to chastise another on our morality soapboxes of social media and other outlets, but we fail to tap on the compass and make sure we’ve got our eyes focused on our true north, Jesus.

Matthew 6:33 tells us that if we keep our eyes on Him, everything else will fall into place. Saul was so fixated on the rules; he was an educated man, a Roman citizen and, as a Pharisee, knew the law. He knew what was right, but he had failed to tap on his compass to make sure that it was still pointing to God and not to his own self-righteousness. However, even when we do what Saul did, there is hope for us and grace to cover. Saul would be knocked from his high horse, and Jesus would help him with his compass. He would give Saul a vision of his faith by physically taking it from him and helping Saul find his true identity. Paul wrote most of what we call the New Testament, was imprisoned for nearly most of his ministering days, would be beaten beyond recognition for his faith in Christ, and would take the gospel message to you and me – the Gentiles. When we need to re-focus, we are in good company with Paul.

4. James

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:7

This is a big deal in the grand scheme of things. The church was in its infancy. James would be one of the earliest leaders of the church and was looked to for his wisdom and insight. He also was the half-brother of Jesus. So, the family tie is so interesting here. Jesus was rejected by many of those who were from Nazareth. So, the reality that two of His half-brothers, James and Jude, are part of the New Testament is a huge testimony.

For even his own brothers did not believe in him. | John 7:5 (NLT)

It is believed that Jesus’ brothers did not become believers until after they encountered the resurrected Christ.

Let’s relate this to our own families. How many in your family are in Christ? My first prayer would be, “Let my family see the living Christ in me.” Second, “Let them experience the living Christ for themselves.” It is a true statement that God has no grandchildren. So, our sons and daughters, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and all of our cousins need to experience the living Christ themselves. Your transformed life is the greatest testimony to them that Christ is alive in you. My dad was saved in his forties, and his life was radically changed. So much so that my grandfather, in his eighties, gave his heart to the Lord because of my Dad’s testimony. So, let the new life of Christ in you shine out to your family, your friends, and your world.

5. Peter

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:5

“And then [Christ] appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.” | 1 Corinthians 15:5 (NLT)

Paul, the author of 1 Corinthians, has packed an incredibly powerful moment into a few words: “Appeared to Cephas.” Let’s unpack that.

A few days before, Cephas, the Apostle Peter, was speaking when a rooster started to crow:

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” | Matthew 26:34 (NLT)

Peter had just disowned Jesus for the third time. The Bible says that the Lord then turned and looked straight at Peter. Straight at him. Can you imagine? Peter then realizes his betrayal, and he goes out and weeps bitterly.

Three times Peter had denied Jesus. I imagine that five minutes before Jesus appeared to Peter, Peter was off sitting, alone, full of self-hatred and regret and utterly heartbroken. I think it is for that very reason that Jesus sought him out first. He found him in his brokenness, in his heartbreak, in his self-hatred, in his regret, and He forgave him. What a sight of grace that must have been to see!

Someone once did me wrong, betrayed me, and offered no apology – so, I thought, no chance for forgiveness either. So, not being able to forgive them, initially when my pain turned to anger, I was compelled to find restoration in getting back. I thought maybe if my betrayer felt pain as I had, then they would be sorry, and then, just maybe, I would get my apology. However, after I imagined each scenario of getting back, I still felt the same. As I imagined their endearing and remorseful apology, I still felt the same. Why? I had not imagined grace – I was not forgiving them.

Tenth Ave North has a song called “Losing.” In the song, the lyrics read:

“We think pain is owed apologies and then it’ll stop.
But truth be told it doesn’t matter if they’re sorry or not.
Freedom comes when we surrender to the sound
Of mercy and Your grace, Father, send Your angels down
Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Because I feel like the one losing.”

When others betray you, do you respond with grace? Do you seek them out first? Do you seek them at all?

And, when you betray the Lord with your sin, do you forgive yourself? When His grace and mercy seek you first and free you from your sin, do you let it restore you?

6. The Seven Disciples

Scripture Reading: John 21:1-14

I want to encourage you to dig into this scripture reading. So much is happening here. Seven of the disciples went fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Jesus reveals Himself for the third time, post-resurrection, and invites them to breakfast. And, in addition to that, Christ has a personal conversation with Peter. I, however, want to focus on just one piece of the text.

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. | John 21:12 (NLT)

I love the personal touch of this resurrection story, “Come and eat breakfast.” That is what Jesus did with His disciples every day before His death. To do something so normal is just so wonderful. It connects to their fishing, it connects to their daily lives, and it shows how Jesus shows up in our everyday world.

I grew up in a broken home, so the words “come and eat breakfast” mean a lot to me. It means family, friends, and closeness. Why is it so important to me? I ate most of my meals by myself as a kid. Or, I ate them in a school cafeteria. So, when I hear, “Come and eat breakfast,” I hear my grandma’s voice. She was the steady hand in my life. My grandparents were married for 68 years. They ate all their meals at the table. Every meal was special and felt like Thanksgiving dinner. That is the way Jesus is. Everything that He does is special and has a meaning.

What were the come-and-eat-breakfast moments for you in Israel? Don’t forget them. Write them down and meditate on them. It may be your resurrection story someday.

7. The Eleven Disciples

Scripture Reading: John 20:26-28

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” | John 20:26-28 (NLT)

Faith, simply put, is believing without seeing. God loved Abraham because of his great faith. Abraham did not have the honor and privilege of seeing Jesus the way the disciples did. Even though he never saw God, Abraham trusted God by faith. Thomas always had to see something before he would believe it – “Doubting Thomas.” He was a skeptic. He was loyal but pessimistic. Jesus didn’t rebuke Thomas for his lack of faith. But instead, offered him proof of His resurrection. Jesus lovingly met Thomas at his point of weakness.

Thomas’ response to Jesus is beautiful. “My Lord and my God.” With these words, Thomas declared his firm belief in the resurrection and, by extension Jesus’ deity as the Messiah and Son of God. Could there be any more important words spoken in our lives about Jesus than declaring, “My Lord and my God?” Let’s just go a little further.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” | John 20:29 (NLT)

What was the purpose of this whole dialogue? Jesus was preparing His disciples to tell the world the good news – The Great Commission.

Prayer: Allow me to experience Jesus in a whole new and exciting way. I pray that my faith continues at an all-time high. As Jesus strengthened the faith of His disciples to prepare them to be sent out to the world, I pray He strengthens my faith, too.

8. The Ten Disciples

Scripture Reading: John 20:22

The Holy Spirit is known by many names and titles, most of which are related to some aspect of His ministry. Many believe that this action of Jesus was foreshadowing what was to come; receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and not actually receiving Him at the moment Jesus breathed on them. Regardless, He came and resides within us now.

The only way that I survived the first 30 years of my life without the Holy Spirit is by God’s unfailing love and grace. In the years following my salvation all the way up until today, God continues to teach me and grow me through the Lord, the Holy Spirit.

The Bible uses some names and descriptions for the Holy Spirit which express some aspect of His ministry. Here are a few:

Author of Scripture. Peter and Timothy talk about the Bible being inspired, literally “God-breathed,” by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit moved the authors of the 66 books to record exactly what He breathed into their hearts and minds.

Comforter, Counselor, Advocate. Isaiah and John use these descriptions of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ disciples were in great distress because they lost His comforting presence. But, Jesus promised to send the Spirit to comfort, console, and guide those who follow Christ. The Holy Spirit also confirms within our spirit that we belong to Jesus and assures our salvation.

Convicter of Sin. Jesus is quoted in John 16:7-11 about this. The Spirit makes us know God’s truth in our hearts and minds. In doing so He helps us to know that we are sinners in need of a Savior.

Guide, Intercessor, Revealer, Spirit of Truth, Spirit of Life, Teacher, Witness, Spirit of God, the Lord, Christ.

I have seen the Holy Spirit work in my life countless times. I can only imagine how many times He has interceded on my behalf without me knowing – what amazing grace and love! I want to challenge you today to look at the scriptures in a fresh new way: God-breathed! He revealed Himself to you in scripture and in the person of Jesus Christ.

Then, just like a doting Father who loves to give gifts, He says I have another gift for you: the Holy Spirit! What are you doing with this amazing gift?

9. The Road to Emmaus

Scripture Reading: Luke 24:15-31

Jesus does three important things here He corrects their perspective to His divine perspective: He opens scripture, He opens their eyes, and then He opens their minds.

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. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. | Luke 24:15-17 (NLT)

That is so like Jesus, isn’t it – to meet us as we walk the Emmaus road and ask us why we are sad. But the two disciples do not realize it’s Jesus, and they respond to His question by complaining, “He should have redeemed us.”

I imagine Jesus staring blankly at them thinking, “Let me break this down for you. That precisely was what I was doing on the cross, redeeming you, freeing you.” The two disciples’ perspective was wrong; the freedom that the disciples wanted was from persecution, for their own will, not God’s will. So, as they walk to Emmaus, Jesus points them to scripture, and they ignite in its truths. It says that their hearts were burning within! Only scripture, God’s Holy Word, has that power.

Once they get to town, Jesus takes the bread, gives thanks and passes it out and the disciples recognize Him. Scripture says that their eyes were opened. When we open scripture, God will open our eyes, and we will recognize Him.

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. | Luke 24:45 (NLT)

Only when we open scripture can our eyes truly be open, and only then can God fully open our minds so we may understand our purpose and God’s will for our lives.

God brought you to this moment, somewhere on the Emmaus road. Are you viewing His divine perspective or your own?

Do you open scripture when you are walking the Emmaus road? Do His words ignite you?

Do you see Him walking beside you? Is your mind open? Do you understand your purpose and God’s will for your life?

10. The Final Appearance

Scripture Reading: Acts 1:9-11

He is coming again! What a great way to leave with the promise that He would return just like He left. The disciples saw Him die, they saw Him alive again and now they watch Him taken up into the clouds. Then, to top it off, two angels tell them, “He will come back in the same way you saw Him go!” That is the hope of the church! It is called the Blessed Hope!

There is an old song of the church that says:

“What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see
When I look upon His face the one who saved my by His grace
When He takes me by the hand and leads me to the promised land
What a day, glorious day that will be”

Think about all that you experienced in Israel. You had a front-row seat and got to experience the history of the Bible and the lands where our Savior lived. You saw the promised land that the Jews obtained after their deliverance from Egypt and 40 years spent wandering in the wilderness. To think that something better is coming; that there is a promised land for us where Jesus is waiting for us. He is preparing a place for us, so that where He is, there we may also be.

There is one more story yet to live, and that is His return. Who knows, maybe in our lifetime this could be something we get to experience. So, whether by the grave or in the air, we will each one see Jesus face to face.

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