Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The Most Remarkable After-Death Appearances

The Big Idea: We know Jesus died and came back to life from the many after death appearances and interactions with food and touch.

How can we know Jesus really died, and truly came back to life?

God has been real to me since I was a very young girl. For me, belief in Jesus and the Bible came easily. For many, belief is a struggle, and evidence weighs in with doubts. 

Consider these many after-death appearances from the New Testament. At one point He appeared to over 500 people (I Corinthians 15:6).

The multiple after - death appearances

Over ten appearances are recorded in the Bible. Not only did some touch Him feeling His wounds, some ate with Him. Here is a great chart from the book by apologist, Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict.

From Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell

The highest honor goes to… the women!

Jesus often gave honor to women. How crazy is that for that time period?

He appeared first to women followers. Mary Magdalene heard Him state her name. She KNEW that voice! (John 20:11)

It was the women’s honor to be the first to go and tell.

Not just seeing, but touching and eating together

Jesus found the disciples on a couple of occasions and he broke bread and ate with them. (Luke 24:16) Another day he cooked fish and ate with them on the beach (John 21).

“Doubting Thomas” wasn’t with the other disciples the first time Jesus showed up after the resurrection. Jesus came back later that week when Thomas was there and asked him to touch His wounds. Not. A. Ghost (John 20:19-29).

Shell game?

Some said the disciples had stolen the body. But if they did, the Jewish leaders would have arrested the disciples for defiling a tomb and an unclean corpse. They were very touchy about stuff like that.

In Bible times there was never a credible alternative place where Jesus’ body was laid like the famous tombs of other notable people.

There was no dead body. Anywhere.

And in the years following Jesus’ ascension to heaven, every disciple faced serious persecution and even violent death for their story that Jesus lives. It could not be a lie that eleven men decided to give their lives for.

Fully God. Fully man.

Jesus was fully man.

He was born of a woman. He grew up. He felt pain. He ate. He slept. He died completely convincing the soldiers at the cross.

He endured about as much pain as one could by torturous execution.

Jesus was fully God.

Jesus was miraculously conceived. God stated He was His Son by audible voice from heaven. He was God knowing, quoting and explaining/clarifying the Old Testament. He healed, fulfilling the Old Testament Messianic prophecies. And He was totally hated by Satan and the demons.

Jesus completely died

Jesus died as a complete human male. No fainting, then gathering enough strength to claw his way out of the tomb with a one ton plus door or stone.
John the Baptist called Him The Lamb of God who takes away the Sin of the World (John 1:29). This Lamb of God fully died during Passover. Later the New Testament writers would make it clear He was the ultimate Passover sacrifice (I Corinthians 5:7).

Jesus completely reversed death

Jesus did not appear as a ghost like an apparition. He had a body and interacted in human activity with other human beings.

He came back to life permanently to be alive forever. It was a “staying alive forever” power.

He resurrected Lazarus from a dead state (John 11). He had that God-power over life and death. But Lazarus’ death-to-life was different. Lazarus lived more on the earth and died later in life, like any other person would.

Jesus did a more powerful work on Himself. Because He is God, He came back to life in a forever body, never to die again (Hebrews 7:24). He returned to His Father in heaven (Acts 1:1-10). He is the only human being to regain life and never die again (Romans 6:9).

Death could not hold Him

C.S. Lewis says it well! Death started working backwards. (C.S Lewis in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe) He took control of it and reclaimed life because of His all mighty God power.

I love this line in the song from NorthPoint Worship, When death was arrested and my life began.

He reversed the penalty of death, by being killed as an innocent human man, a perfect sacrifice, and then conquering death’s hold by coming back to life forever (I Corinthians 15:57)!

What a nice thing He did

It is a nice thing He did for us human beings! As a human being He felt every strike of the whip and every nail. He experienced death. Tasted it (Hebrews 2:9).

Because He was God, He reversed the curse to life (Galatians 3:13)

You and I have the opportunity to seize this incredible benefit and escape the penalty of our deserved eternal death (Romans 5:21), by confessing (Romans 10:9). We cannot achieve this on our own, believing in what He has done for us.

He lives in me

There comes a point when you just have to believe. One of my favorite hymns states You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart (Alfred H. Ackley, He Lives).

I talk to Him and I know His voice in my being. He is real to me and my life. Even if it were for only His help and guidance in this life alone, life is all the better because of Him.

If you still have questions, check out books by Josh McDowell such as Evidence for the Resurrection.  

Here is a place to download all of Josh McDowell's books as PDF files for free. Explore the Faith.


Up next: Imagine not being able to read the Bible
Previous post: When hope is dashed


1. Have you or someone close to you had doubts about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Where does it stand for you now? What has made a difference?

2. Have you experienced God with you? If so, how does this touch you?

3. Think about sharing this post with someone and interacting about what you think about the realities of the resurrection and the power of Jesus.  Pray as you are in process, exploring. 


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