Those Resurrection Appearances

Those Resurrection Appearances

You may be well aware that, after the resurrection, Jesus kept popping up all over the place.  According to John’s gospel, he showed up to Mary near the tomb early in the morning.  Later in the day he just popped in to a locked room where most of the disciples were hiding out.  Even later in the day he showed up on the road to Emmaus.  And in the days to come, he would show up again in a locked room just for the benefit of Thomas, as well as even later on a beach cooking breakfast.  The tail ends of the gospels are filled with all sorts of accounts of the risen Jesus. 

But why?  Why would all the gospel writers include so many resurrection appearances?  Was it simply to emphasize the great ending to the greatest story ever told?  Was it a feel good measure designed to make up for the horrors witnessed at the end of Holy Week?  Did they write such things in order to neatly bring their accounts to a satisfying end? 

The gospel of John quite nicely sums up the whole point of the numerous resurrection accounts.  John tells us that there were many more signs of the resurrection which he did not record, but the purpose for writing them was so “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” 

John and all the other writers of the gospels wrote for the sole purpose of having us believe.  This was all done for us.  The story is told for us.  We are the beneficiaries of their experience and work. 

The question now becomes, what do we do about it?  Do we set the book aside with a grateful sigh that we have heard or read such a wonderful story and leave it at that?  Or do we use the labours of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and put them towards their intended purpose?  If we just set it aside with little or no further thought, aren’t we dishonoring the authors of the gospels?  Their purpose wasn’t just to tell a great story, but to encourage all people to believe. 

As I attempt to inform every confirmation class, people act on what they believe.  If they are about to travel and believe that the weather outside is horrible, they generally stay home.  If people believe happiness will always elude them, they are usually miserable.  When people believe their means of making a living is in jeopardy, they switch careers.  People act on what they believe whether their belief is right or wrong. 

So what happens when we truly believe not only that Jesus is risen from the dead, but also the promised Messiah of God?  What happens when we believe that God actually does love us so much that God would go through the pain, torture, and death on a cross – so we could enjoy the benefits in this life and eternal life with God?  What happens when we believe that we are conduits of God’s love to the world outside of our selves, our homes, and our congregation? 

The gospels tell us what happens then.  We live life here and now with purpose, meaning and hope.  We live life for the sake of others, just as Jesus lived his life for our sake.  We reach out to show the world this love God has shown us. 

 Rev. Charles Nolting