So I shared with Gamaliel exactly how all the resurrection appearances happened that fateful morning when everything changed. I gave him a much more detailed account, but since I am sure by now you have heard much about this, I will just give you the bare facts:
(Matthew 28:1, Luke 24:1, Mark 16:1, John 20:1) Mary Magdalene and the women went to the tomb early that morning hoping to anoint Jesus’ body. When they arrived, they saw it was empty. Mary Magdalene left immediately to find me (Mark 16:7, John 20:2), while the other women remained, somewhat dumbfounded.
John was with me at the time (John 20:2), although Mary did not know this. She knew where I was because she had seen me curled up in an alley, drowning in the tears of the agony of my betrayal. John had come looking for me to comfort me. He knew I was devastated and ashamed. He only knew how to find me because Mary had told him where she had seen me.
Mary found us and in between her gasping breaths she exclaimed “Come see, the tomb is empty!” John looked at me bewildered, but soon a smile crept across his face. He knew what this meant. So did I. But could it be? Could this really mean Jesus was alive?
Without saying another word, we took off running (John 20:3). Mary followed us, but she couldn’t possibly keep up with us. As soon as we arrived, we both stepped into the tomb to verify it was empty. Confused, but excited, we left to go tell the other brothers. To say we were somewhat dazed would be an understatement.
Can you only imagine?
But Mary stayed behind. She told us she then saw two angels, one of whom spoke to her. As she turned to follow us, she saw Jesus (John 20:10). After he spoke to her she left to tell the disciples. While John and I were walking back into the city, I told John I needed a few minutes alone, to gather myself before seeing the other disciples. That is when Jesus appeared to me. (Luke 24:33, 1 Corinthians 15:5)
He didn’t say much. He just smiled and said he loved me, and that things were happening just as he had told us, and just as the Father had planned. He also smiled and said, “And Peter, my little rock, all is well with us. You are still my beloved friend. And I still have a plan for you.” With that he motioned for me to go join the other disciples, and he disappeared.
Meanwhile, the women who had stayed behind encountered the angels. (Matthew 28:5, Mark 16:4, Luke 24:4) One of the angels told them, “He is not here; he has risen … Go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.’” They started on their way back into the city, and along the way Jesus appeared to them (Matthew 28:9). He told them the same thing the angel did. When they arrived, they told the disciples what they had seen. You can imagine the men were very confused.
Cleopas and Thaddeus then left for Emmaus (Luke 24:13, Mark 16:12). You’ve read about their encounter with Jesus. Afterward they hurry back to tell us. John and I have rejoined the other disciples at his point. Later that day Jesus appears to the all of us, but Thomas is not there. (John 20:19)
A week later Jesus appeared to us again, and this time with Thomas present. (John 20:24)
(John 21) After this we all returned to Galilee, just as Jesus had told us to do. I decided to go back to fishing, and several other disciples joined me. That is when Jesus appeared on the beach to seven of us, and took me off for our one on one restoration walk and talk. (John 21:15)
While we were in Galilee Jesus appeared to us several times, teaching and talking a about the Kingdom. (Acts 1:3) Once, when we were headed to the mountain to pray and seek Jesus, as he had instructed us to do, a crowd began to follow us. (Matthew 28:16) With the word spreading that we were expecting to see Jesus again, the crowd swelled to at least five hundred. They all wanted to see this risen Messiah.
This is when he gave us his great commission, to go and make disciples throughout the world. (Matthew 28:16)
During this Galilean time, Jesus appeared to James privately, restoring him as well, and making clear his role in the future Jerusalem church. (1 Corinthian 15:7)
Ten days later we all went back to Jerusalem, Jesus’ family included, for the Feast of Pentecost. During this time, we met Jesus on the Mount of Olives for his final ascension. (Luke 24:50, Acts 1:6)
Gamaliel was fascinated by these details and remarked, “I consider myself to be a learned man, and I have to admit the stories I have heard about that first resurrection Sunday seemed to contradict each other – what with one angel or two, and the different women, and the varying timelines, but your account flows very naturally, and I find it entirely credible. Perhaps I will consider your Jesus a little more seriously. I’m not ready to proclaim him as the Messiah, but I’m more open to him now.”
Oh my, I have wandered yet again. Back to our ‘trial’ before the Sanhedrin.