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Allow Me to Explain (33 of 439) – Where’s Jesus?

August 31, 2011

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33. Where did Jesus first appear to the eleven disciples after the resurrection? Matthew 28:16 vs Mark 16:14, Luke 24:33-37, John 20:19

Whoever put this Bible thing together was setting themselves up for disaster when they included FOUR eye-witness accounts of Jesus’ life.

Matthew 28:16
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.

Mark 16:14
Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.

Luke 24:33-37
So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread. 36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.

John 20:19
Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

The first four books of the New Testament are the gospels. They are four eye-witness accounts of the same three years. Ask four siblings to write about the same time period, and you will have four different accounts. Even if all of them are 100% accurate, they will read differently. Different people remember different things, and understand different depths of different situations. If two of them fail to recount what grandpa got for Christmas one year, for example, even though it was hilarious to the other two, we don’t assume anyone is lying.

That said, here’s what we learn happened when we put the stories together:

Some women went to the tomb the day after the Sabbath to tend to Jesus’ body. They didn’t find Him, but they met some angels. (Matt 28:1-7, Mark 16:1-7, Luke 24:1-7, John 20:1-2)

Jesus appeared to Mary – at least. (Mark 16:9, John 20:11-18)

The women returned to the disciples to tell them what happened. (Matt 28:8, Mark 16:8, Luke 24:9, John 20:18)

The order in which those two – the appearance to Mary and the testimony of the women – isn’t given a chronology, but it hardly matters.

A couple of the disciples came running to see the empty tomb. (Luke 24:12, John 20:3-10)

Jesus appeared to a couple of disciples – not of “the eleven” – on their way out of town. (Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-35)

Jesus appeared to “the eleven” while they were gathered inside somewhere – twice, which Mark and Luke condense. (Mark 16:14-18, Luke 24:36-49, John 20:19-29)

Jesus appeared to seven of the disciples while they were fishing. (John 21)

Jesus gave His disciples some final instruction/blessing, and ascended into Heaven. (Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:19, Luk 24:50-51)

The Bible includes four accounts of the events of Jesus’ life so they can verify and complete each other. If the gospels were all the same, the skeptics would cry, “Coercion.” If God had used only one person to record Jesus’ first ministry on earth, the skeptics would bemoan it’s insufficiency. Seeming inconsistencies in the gospel accounts inspire us to compare the stories to get a fuller picture; they don’t automatically invalidate the entire story.

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