Smoky Mountain Bible Institute
(Est. 2009) Lesson #79
As I mentioned last time, the first Easter was probably April 5th, 33 AD. This month I would like to briefly discuss the 40-day period between Easter Sunday and Ascension Day; two very important dates on the church’s calendar. The article at Answers in Genesis which is linked below does a good job of summarizing and addressing any supposed conflicts in the biblical accounts. There are some historical facts that must be dealt with by those who claim Christianity is just a big hoax.
First, there was an empty tomb. There were also many witnesses not only to the empty tomb, but also to the multiple appearances of the man who was laid in that tomb, walking talking, and even eating. Second, if one were going to make up a story to support a false religion, would it not make sense that they would in some way benefit from the hoax? Keep in mind that the list of reliable witnesses I am about to summarize for you were for the most part persecuted and martyred for their bold witness.
On Easter day Jesus appeared to no fewer than 5 women, 4 of whom we know by name: 2 named Mary, Salome, Joanna, and at least one other unnamed woman. He appeared also to no fewer than 12 men, including 10 of the apostles (Simon & Peter twice), and the two disciples headed to Emmaus: Clopas and his un-named companion. On April 12th you can add Thomas to the list. So already in the first week we have 6 separate appearances and 18 firsthand witnesses.
Additionally, sometime in the following weeks, recorded for our benefit, was an appearance at the sea of Tiberius (which is what the sea of Galilee was called in the coastal area around the town of Tiberius). This appearance included 5 named apostles and two other disciples. In Matthew 28, the resurrected Jesus appears to the Apostles on a mountain in Galilee. He then institutes what is often called “The Great Commission”, instructing them to baptize and teach the faith to all nations. This is also from where the church draws the “baptismal formula” under which all Christians are to be baptized into the triune name of God. There was one more pre-ascension appearance recorded for us in 1 Corinthians 15, in which over 500 brethren witnessed the resurrected Christ.
Lastly came Ascension Day on Mt. Olivet near Bethany, May 14th, 33 AD. We do not know how many of Jesus’ disciples were there, but we do know he had more than 70, and after 40 days, many if not most would have been (I am guessing of course) on sort of high alert; a “where will he appear next?” sort of mind set. Suffice it to say there were a lot of disciples there. A small chapel stands on the spot at which this is traditionally thought to have taken place. Historic traditional locations for things are, the result of generations of individuals witnessing to the importance of that location.
Hundreds of reliable witnesses have given us reports of at least 10 post-resurrection appearances. The question now becomes, “what evidence exists to refute the claims of scripture?” I contend that there is none, and disbelief that resurrection from the dead is possible is not a valid argument!
see the link below for a graphic time line that I could not past here
Link to article: answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/resurrection/the-sequence-of-christs-post-resurrection-appearances