A chain reaction

The events that occurred on the day Jesus was resurrected from the dead formed what could be described as a chain reaction. It began before sunset when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and discovered that the giant stone that blocked its entrance had been taken away (John 20:1). According to John’s gospel, “Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith to them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him” (John 20:2). John, who referred to himself as “the other disciple, whom Jesus loved” reported that he believed Jesus had risen from the dead when he went inside the empty tomb and saw “the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself” (John 20:6-7, 8). Afterward, Jesus appeared to Mary and told her, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17). As a result of this experience, John said, “Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things to her” (John 20:18).

The Apostle Peter’s reaction to the empty tomb was not the same as John’s. Luke stated that when he saw the linen clothes lying by themselves, he “departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass” (Luke 24:12). Luke indicated that two of the men that heard Mary say she had seen Jesus and did not believe her (Luke 24:11), left the city and headed for a distant village, perhaps to escape the pressure of the situation (Luke 24:13-14). Luke didn’t identify the person traveling with Cleopas to Emmaus, but it’s possible that his companion who was a man named Simon, was actually Peter. After their encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus and the meal in which his identity was revealed to them, Luke reported, “they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon” (Luke 24:33-34). The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians that Jesus was first seen by Cephas, the Greek surname of Peter (G2786), and then by the rest of the twelve apostles (1 Corinthians 15:5 and note).

The tipping point in the twelve apostles acceptance of the news that Jesus had returned from the dead came when they were listening to the report of what had happened to the two men traveling to Emmaus. Luke stated, “And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and of a honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them” (Luke 24:35-43).

Jesus’ demonstration of his human capability of eating was probably meant to be taken as convincing proof that he was indeed alive, not just a resemblance of his former self. The experience of watching their risen savior eat appears to have been the final spark in the chain reaction that ignited the apostles faith. Unfortunately, there was one apostle that wasn’t present when it happened. John reported, “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Jesus indicated the cause of Thomas’ doubt was a lack of trust (John 20:27). Thomas wasn’t convinced that his friends were telling him the truth. Therefore, Jesus gave Thomas the opportunity to see for himself that his Lord and his God was truly alive (John 20:27-28), but afterward, Jesus rebuked him stating, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

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