In an effort to make our faith secure, Jesus appeared to his disciples on eleven distinct occasions. Here they are:
1. Mary Magdalene alone (Mk 16; Jn 20.14)
2. The woman returning from the tomb (Mt 28.9-10)
3. Simon Peter alone (Lk 24.34)
4. Two disciples on the way to Emmaus (Lk 24.13-35)
5. Apostles at Jerusalem, without Thomas (Jn 20.19)
6. Apostles at Jerusalem, a second time, with Thomas present (Jn 20.26-29)
7. Sea of Tiberias, seven disciples fishing (Jn 21.1)
8. To the Eleven, on mountain in Galilee (Mt. 28.16)
9. To 500+ disciples (1Cor 15.6)
10. To James alone (1Cor 15.7)
11. To the Apostles on Mt. Olivet at his Ascension (Lk 24.51; Acts 1.6-11)
This is mere speculation and devotional in nature, but I thought I would share it. As you may know twelve symbolizes perfection or completion. Could it be that Christ reveals himself through his Word to you and to me as the Twelfth appearance. Blessed are those who have not seen with eyes of flesh, yet see with the eyes of faith. After all, isn’t this what Luke is attempting to do in his gospel and sequel (Acts)? Isn’t he attempting to give an account to most excellent Theophilus (“Lover of God”)? By giving such an account, he wants to make our faith certain that not only these things happened, but they cause ripple effects into our own space and time.
Christ truly is walking amongst us through the power and illuminating power of his Spirit.
I am preaching on reading Scripture devotionally this coming Sunday. I am using the Road to Emmaus as the backdrop to the message (Luke 24.13-35). I am playing with the thesis right now, but it is something like “God reveals himself so that we will be changed.”
In study, I came across this pithy quotation from J. C. Ryle’s sermon on the same text:
In what way did our Lord show “things concerning himself,” in every part of the Old Testament field? The answer . . . is short and simple.
Christ was the substance of every Old Testament sacrifice, ordained in the law of Moses. Christ was the true Deliverer and King, of whom all the judges and deliverers in Jewish history were types. Christ was the coming Prophet greater than Moses, whose glorious advent filled the pages of prophets. Christ was the true seed of the woman who was to bruise the serpent’s head–the true seed in whom all nations were to be blessed–the true Shiloh to whom the people were to be gathered, the true scape-goat–the true bronze serpent–the true Lamb to which every daily offering pointed–the true High Priest of whom every descendant of Aaron was a figure. These things, or something like them, we need not doubt, were some of the things which our Lord expounded in the way to Emmaus.
Of course, I am probably going to use this in the sermon. It hits me every time I read it!
I have been converting my file life from paper into e-format (for another post!). While scanning the documents, I came across a treasure trove of articles by Sam Crabtree–Executive Pastor at Bethlehem Baptist.
While at Bethlehem, I remember the short but poignant interactions I had with Sam. He is a man after God’s own heart. Upon requesting a coffee with him, I remember him telling me that his job was to work in the obscure things in order to free up Pastor John for what he is gifted at. I remember being astounded and confounded as a green pastoral candidate. Didn’t Sam want to be known and quoted and re-tweeted? His desire to serve marked me forever. I have been since struggling to aim at serving and not renown. May God grant me such a heart and service and willingness to live in the obscure places for the glory of God’s name and not my own.
All that to say I just subscribed to Sam’s blog and would highly encourage you to do the same. Short and pithy, just like Sam (metaphorically, not literally).