THE GOSPELS 116
Matt.28, Mk.16, Lk.24. Jno.20-21
THE APPEARANCES OF JESUS AFTER HIS RESURRECTION
The Biblical record tells of seven distinct appearances of Jesus after His resurrection. All of these appearances were to His disciples. It is of interest to ask why this was so. Why not
appear to Pilate, the Roman who had reluctantly sent Him to the Cross? Why not to the Sanhedrin and others of the Pharisees, who had demanded His death? Why not give them the ultimate proof
that He was alive and had fulfilled His promise to return from the grave? I think this is an incredibly important question to ask, and yet it has seldom been addressed by the commentators and
scholars who write of the Gospel story.
God does not do anything accidentally, nor does He ever act without a purpose. If Jesus did not appear to those who had caused His crucifixion, there was a very important reason. I believe that
reason lies at the very heart of God’s purposes for all creation.
When God created man, in His own image, He made a creature with whom He could have a close loving relationship. In doing so, He placed a restriction upon Himself by giving man freedom of choice.
It was necessary for man to have that freedom, for one cannot have a real love relationship if one is not free to choose. Therefore, God never violated that freedom of choice which He gave to man.
It should be obvious that God could make all men believe on Him by exerting His power for all to see. Jesus told Pilate that He could call a legion of angels and overthrow Rome if that was His
purpose. No one could resist the almighty power of God if He chose to overwhelm man by it. But to do so would not accomplish God’s purpose of having a close personal and loving relationship with
man. Unless man wanted God in his life, there could not be this relationship. Love cannot be forced.
The Jews did not want what God wanted. They wanted an earthly kingdom where they would have power and dominion. Pilate was a man who valued his position and power more than he valued honesty and
integrity. Jesus, in one of His discourses, told of people who could not believe on Him because they were “not His sheep”. In other words, they did not want to be in His fold…nor did they want
what He had to offer of goodness and purity and love. Only those who really want God in their life can truly believe on Him. He will not force anyone to believe, for that is slavish acceptance
rather than heartfelt love.
Therefore, Jesus appeared to those who were His sheep…who loved and wanted to be with Him, to confirm their faith. He did not appear to those who did not want Him, to force their belief.
Faith is a matter of choice, and God has protected, at all costs, that freedom of choice He gives you . Paul said, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that
which I have committed unto Him against that day”. Paul wanted to commit his life to the Lord, and did so, willingly, gladly, and with absolute faith.
One of my earthly father’s favorite quotes was, “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still”. God will not convince anyone who is unwilling, to hear, believe and follow the
truth in his life. God has already chosen you, but now it is up to you to choose HIM.