EVENTS AFTER THE DEATH OF JESUS
The events after the death of Jesus are:
1. The burial of Jesus (Mt 27:57-61, Mk 15:42-47, Lk 23:50-56, Jn 19:38-42).
2. The guard at the tomb (Mt 27:62-66).
3. The resurrection of Jesus (Mt 28:1-10, Mk 16:1-8, Lk 24:1-12, Jn 20:1-10).
4. The appearance to Mary Magdalene (Mk 16:9-11, Jn 20:11-18).
5. The appearance to two disciples (Mk 16:12-13, Lk 24:13-35).
6. The appearance to the disciples in Jerusalem (Lk 24:36-49, Jn 20:19-23)
7. The report of the guards (Mt 28:11-15)
RESURRECTION AND HOLY TRINITY
The resurrection of Jesus is an act of the Most Holy Trinity. All the three persons of God involved in Jesus’ resurrection according to the Bible. St. Paul writes, “Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father” (Rom 6:4). Examples of other references of God the Father raising Jesus are Acts 2:32; 2:24; 10:40; 13:30 and Galatians 1:1. Jesus himself came back to life according to John 2:19: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” In John 10:18, Jesus said that he had the power to lay his life down, and power to take it up again. Paul in Romans 8:11 and Peter in 1 Peter 3:18 specify that the Spirit of God raised Jesus from the dead. Thus, we see the involvement of all persons of the Most Holy Trinity in the resurrection of Jesus.
RESURRECTION ON THE THIRD DAY
Third day does not mean 72 hours or three full days. Jews of Jesus’ time counted even a part of the day as one day. So, the death of Jesus at 3:00 P.M. on Friday and burial before 6:00 P.M. on the same day was the first day. Friday from 6:00 P.M. to Saturday, 6:00 P.M. was the second day. Early morning before sunrise on Sunday was the third day. Thus, Jesus rose early morning on the third day.
Jesus had appeared to his disciples “during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). The following are the recorded appearances of Jesus after his resurrection:
1. To Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem on the Resurrection Sunday (Jn 20:11-18, Mk 16:9-11).
2. To a group of women in Jerusalem on Resurrection Sunday as the Synoptic gospels present: “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” (Mt 28:1,9), “Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome” (Mk 16:1), “Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them” (Lk 24:10).
3. To Simon Peter in Jerusalem on the Resurrection Sunday (Lk 24:34, 1 Cor 15:5).
4. To Cleopas and his companion on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the Resurrection Sunday (Lk 24:13-35).
5. To ten apostles, excluding Thomas, in Jerusalem on the Resurrection Sunday (Jn 20:19-25).
6. To the eleven apostles, including Thomas, in Jerusalem on the eighth day after the Resurrection (Jn 20:26-29).
7. To seven disciples, “Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples” (Jn 21:2), who were fishing at the Sea of Tiberias in Galilee within weeks after the resurrection and before the ascension on the fortieth day.
8. To the eleven disciples at a mountain in Galilee within a few weeks after the resurrection (Mt 28:16-20).
9. To “more than five hundred brothers at once” (1 Cor 15:6) and to James (1 Cor 15:7). Its location is unknown, and it happened within weeks after the resurrection.
10. To the apostles in Jerusalem and Jesus led them to the Mount of Olives just before his ascension on the fortieth day (Lk 24:50-52, Acts 1:4-9).
DIFFICULTY TO RECOGNIZE JESUS DURING THE RESURRECTION APPEARANCES
There were several instances when those who saw Jesus after the resurrection had difficulty in recognizing him:
1. When Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, she thought he was a gardener (Jn 20:15) and recognized him only after he called her by name (Jn 20:14-17).
2. When Jesus appeared to the Apostles on the first day of resurrection, “they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost” (Lk 24:37).
3. Though Jesus joined Cleopas and his companion on their journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the Resurrection Sunday, “their eyes were prevented from recognizing him” (Lk 24:16). Later, “while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Lk 24:30-31).
4. When seven disciples, “Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples” (Jn 21:2), were fishing at the Sea of Tiberias in Galilee, Jesus appeared to them. However, they did not recognize until they had a miraculous catch of fish at the direction of Jesus (Jn 21:1-14).
The reason for difficulty in recognizing the Risen Lord was because of his transformed body. Though Jesus raised Lazarus (Jn 11:1-44), the son of the widow in Nain (Lk 7:11-17), and Jairus’ daughter (Lk 8:49-56), they came back to life with their natural body. However, the risen body of Jesus was different and perfect without limitations of the physical laws. That was why he could appear and disappear like angels and could enter through locked doors (Jn 20:19).
The resurrected body of Christ is a sign for the redeemed on how their imperfect earthly body would be transformed in the heavenly realm. The body of the Risen Jesus was different in appearance and characteristics. However, he was also close to how he looked like during his public ministry. That was why the disciples, though misunderstood first, could recognize him, and were convinced that he had risen from the dead.
According to Paul’s first letter to Corinthians 15:40-49, the heavenly bodies are bright, incorruptible, glorious, powerful, spiritual, heavenly, and bear the image of the heavenly one. Though they can be recognizable, their bodies would be different and perfect.
Our faith in Jesus and afterlife is based on the resurrection of Jesus. “If Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching; empty, too, your faith” (1 Cor 15:14). Let us remember that our final destination in life is in heaven, that Jesus has opened for us. The short-term goals and actions must be based on the goal of eternal joy.