Jesus Appears To His Disciples


After Jesus had risen from the dead, He appeared to the eleven at different times and spoke about different things with them concerning their future mission, Matthew 28:16-20 / Mark 16:15-20 / Acts 1:1-12. The appearances occurred over a period of forty days, Acts 1:3.

John begins his account by telling us ‘On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ John 20:19

John tells us that Jesus appeared to His disciples on ‘the first day of the week’ Matthew 28:1 / Mark 16:2 / Luke 24:1/ John 20:19 / John 20:26 / Acts 20:7 / 1 Corinthians 16:2.

The disciples ‘gathered behind closed doors, with the doors locked.’ This was ‘for fear of the Jews’, the Sanhedrin had killed the Master, and they might decide to kill His disciples. As rumours of His resurrection began to spread, the apostles, close companions of Jesus, would be special targets.

Jesus says, ‘peace by with you’ which was a common Jewish salutation. The apostles must have heard Jesus say this many times but surely it now took on new meaning. Peace had been his last message to them in their sorrow, John 16:33. It was His first word to them on His reappearance.

They were in a secured room, but Jesus suddenly appeared in their midst, He had been crucified, His corpse had been buried, yet here He was, before their eyes speaking words, they had heard Him utter many times.

What was initial their reaction?

‘They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? ‘Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’’ Luke 24:37-39

At first, they simply couldn’t believe their own eyes which is understandable, Matthew 14:26 / Mark 6:49. Jesus resurrected body still had the nail marks, John 20:27 / Psalm 22:16.

He tells them that a ‘ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones’ which is the defined nature of a ghost. If they wanted proof that Christ had indeed risen from the dead, here He was right in front of them.

‘And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.’ Luke 24:41-43

It seems the disciples were overwhelmed with joy to the point they couldn’t believe Jesus was in front of them. Jesus’ new resurrected body was still able to do physical things, in this example not only did the disciples touch Jesus, John 20:20 / John 20:27 / 1 John 1:1-2 / 1 John 3:2, but He is eating, which again was further proof that they weren’t seeing things, or seeing a ghost, a ghost doesn’t eat because it’s not physical.

Remember that John wrote his Gospel at a time when the church faced the Docetic heresy, the claim that Jesus had no real, human body, 1 John 4:1-3.

Some ‘modernists’ today say that Jesus ‘spirit’ arose, not His body. John presents conclusive evidence that the body that was crucified was the body that was raised. Then, after being convinced of Jesus’ identity, the disciples were glad, they were overjoyed, John 16:22. See also John 20:20-21.

He shows His wounds and emphasises that He isn’t a ghost. The disciple’s emotions went from unbelief to total joy. The greeting, ‘peace be with you’ is repeated in connection with the word of commission, ‘As the Father has sent, ‘apostello’ me, even so, I send ‘pempo’ you,’ John 17:18.

‘He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Luke 24:44

All of the Old Testament prophecies which spoke about the work and reign of Jesus would be fulfilled when He ascended to the right hand of the Father not long from now. Jesus here is confirming that all the Old Testament prophecies concerning His work and reign in reference to the disciples have now been fulfilled.

‘Then he opened their minds, so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.’ Luke 24:45-46

We don’t know how He opened their mind in order for them to understand the Scriptures, but he opened their mind so that they could understand that He is the Christ, the promised Messiah. Over and over again, Christ told them that He, the Messiah must suffer, die on the cross but rise on the third day. In a nutshell, this is the Gospel of Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

‘And repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’Luke 24:47

Repentance simply means to reconsider, in other words, reconsider your life and the direction it’s going and after considering, change the direction of your life and go towards God and His way, Acts 2:38 / Acts 3:19 / Acts 5:31 /Acts 10:43 / Acts 13:38 / Acts 26:18.

The preaching involved here is simply the great commission, which He gave the apostles, Matthew 28:19-20 / Mark 16:15. In other words, it’s the Gospel, the good news concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Notice where the preaching was to start, at Jerusalem, this is exactly what happened, Acts 1:8 /Acts 2.

‘You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised, but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’ Luke 24:48-49

Far too many Christians claim they are witnesses for Christ, this is impossible because they weren’t around back then when Christ lived, a witness is someone who saw and heard what Christ said and done. It’s also sad that many Christians take these promises of Jesus and make them their own promises.

We must remember that it was these disciples who were to be witnesses, it was them who had personally spent time with Christ and witnessed His death, burial and resurrection, Acts 1:8. They were the ones who were to preach to others what they had seen and heard from Christ.

This is seen further in the fact that Jesus uses the word ‘you’ when speaking to the eleven. This promise is the promise of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, John 14:26 / John 16:13-14 and He was promised only to the apostles, Acts 1:8. It was them and them only who would be ‘clothed with power from on high’, which is clearly seen in Acts 2:1-4.

Others were present with the apostles, Luke 24:33-36, but note that in Acts 1:2-8, Luke includes only ‘the apostles whom he had chosen’ as the ones to whom Holy Spirit baptism was promised. They, the apostles, would ‘receive power’ and be Jesus’ witnesses. Also, the ‘they’ of Acts 2:1 most naturally connects with Acts 1:26, indicating that on the Day of Pentecost only the apostles were so baptised, Acts 2:7 / Acts 2:14 / Acts 2:37, see also the use of power in Acts 4:33 and Acts 5:12. 

‘And with that, he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ John 20:22. Here we read that Jesus ‘breathed’ on them, Genesis 2:7 / Exodus 37:9 and there are three views of what ‘receive the Holy Spirit’ means.

1. It was a symbolic act, indicating what would happen at Pentecost.

2. That He actually imparted the Spirit to them then.

3. That He gave them a specific ‘gift’ of the Spirit, with the fullness coming at Pentecost.

‘If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’ John 20:23. This text is wrongly used to support the claim that a human ‘priest’ has divine power to absolve man from sin. In fact, absolution is the privilege of Deity, Mark 2:5-10. No human being can make terms or conditions on which another human being may be forgiven or not forgiven by God.

God has already made those conditions, and they are unalterable, Matthew 28:18-20 / Mark 16:15-16 / John 3:3-5 /Acts 2:37-38 / Acts 22:16 / 1 John 1:7-9. The apostles, as the inspired representatives of the Lord Jesus, had the responsibility to make known those terms and conditions, Matthew 16:18-19 / Matthew 18:18 / John 14:26 / John 15:26-27 / John 16:7-11.

This doesn’t mean that the power to forgive sins was even entrusted to any man or to any men, it means that the power to proclaim the forgiveness was so entrusted and it means that the power to warn that forgiveness isn’t open to the impenitent heart was also entrusted to them.

So, we see that it’s through the Gospel the apostles had the ability to forgive people’s sins, by their acceptance of the Christ.