CLOSE ENCOUNTERS

CHRIST IS RISEN! Does He pay a visit to the Sanhedrin? No. He goes to…

 

MARY. Her devotion went beyond helping Him in life—she wanted to anoint Him in death. She lingered after Peter and John left the tomb. So did Jesus. Disillusioned, she doesn’t look up when someone asks why she weeps. When her name is called, she knows. Jesus honors her commitment by visiting her first. In your sorrow, stay focused on Jesus. And He will not disappoint you.

 

THE OTHER WOMEN. The first two groups are women, the less important of their day. The disciples proved it, refusing to believe their report. The women paid homage to the dead—and worshiped the living Lord instead. Know, dear women, that while you may not be on center stage, Jesus honors the depth of your devotion.

 

PETER. The death of Jesus devastated him. Satan had sifted him. High hopes turned under the pressure of a servant girl. The words of Jesus, “You will deny me three times,” gnawed at him. He raced to the tomb, hoping against hope. Maybe on the way home he met the risen Lord, for sure the first day. Jesus ministers to a wounded soldier. There’s a place for failures. Jesus comes not to rebuke but to reinstate. Weeks later, in the face of sure persecution, Peter declared to thousands, “This Jesus…you crucified and killed…but God raised him up…” (Acts 2). Angels said to the women, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter…” Jesus has failures on His mind.

 

THE EMMAEUS DISCIPLES. The seven-mile walk was grueling. They spoke to a stranger, “We had hoped…” They had not yet heard the news. The Scriptures should have guided them, but despair blinds eyes. Guess who’s coming for dinner. They invite the well-formed visitor, who blesses the bread—and is gone. He had joined them to chase away gloom, to touch broken hearts, in Word and sacrament. Imagine now how they cover the 10k. Resurrection runners have light feet—and heartburn.

 

THE DISCIPLES MINUS THOMAS. Evening of a new day. Ten disciples cowering in darkness behind locked doors. He comes. Instead of correction, they receive a commission: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” They had lost the ‘sent.’ A fresh mandate will thrust them out. Flesh-and-blood Jesus eats a meal in three of His encounters. The Man running the universe is Jesus of Nazareth, Son of David. He commissioned people like us—doubtful, reluctant—and gave them the Spirit!

 

DISCIPLES, INCLUDING THOMAS. One week later, same time, same house, same shut doors. The still-not-too-confident band gets another visit. This time straight for Thomas. At the last meeting two disciples were missing—one dead, the other doubting. He was loyal but a slow starter. Jesus did not commend his unbelief—He converted it. How kind of Jesus to pursue us in our darkness. Faith is more than holding on; it is God holding us, even in our doubts. Thomas died as a faith-filled martyr! (Normal length. Pit stop. Resurrection stretch.)

 

SEVEN IN GALILEE. Here’s the third encounter to the group, five of whom are named. The big fisherman is called to sheep, not to fish. Jesus erases a three-fold denial with a three-fold affirmation. Jesus didn’t need to hear it—Peter did. From fishing to feeding—at “the Last Breakfast.”

 

FIVE HUNDRED. Paul wrote that “he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time…” Marching orders. Either Jesus is dreaming or this group will disciple the nations. Jesus does not see the Church as nervous saints waiting in caves for the Great Escape but as an aggressive mission-minded movement.

 

JAMES. Only Paul tells of this encounter. “His own had received him not,” and James was no exception (John 7:5). A personal appearance turned a resister into a pillar. In his letter he describes himself as “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Strange way to talk about your bro. Martyrdom by stoning testified to his faithfulness to death. Take hope for your family.

 

APOSTLES, ASCENSION DAY. Scope—the world. Calling—witnesses. Promise—Spirit. Then He left. Did they? Read the book of Acts. He gave them His forwarding address, and they proclaimed the Resurrection!

 

The appearances are divided into two regions—Judea (7) and Galilee (3). Of the seven, the first five were on Resurrection Sunday, the sixth a week later. The final appearance outside Jerusalem came 40 days after the resurrection. Three were with individuals, seven to companies of two or more. All were believers except James, called to faith through the appearance. Why not to other unbelievers? Jesus said, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead?” The raising of Lazarus only brought antagonism. Jesus does not force faith. He did not go to those wallowing in skeptic tanks. Herod wanted tricks, the Pharisees demanded signs—to confirm their unbelief. “God raised him up…and made him manifest, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses…” (Acts 10:41), to Peter, not Pilate, to Cleopas, not Caiphas, not to Roman authorities but to humble women, as one man said.

 

PAUL. He did include himself in the list, as one “abnormally born” (literally a “miscarriage”—I Cor. 15:8), revealed not from earth but from the Right Hand. People who knew Saul would have considered him an unlikely suspect for a visit. God’s power trumps unbelief. Take courage for family and friends!

 

  1. Last of all, He appeared to me. I experience His love today, convinced He is alive! I get up in the morning to serve the Living Lord! I hear His voice and follow His commands! I say with Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives!” How about you?

2 thoughts on “CLOSE ENCOUNTERS

  1. I only discovered your blog a few weeks ago and have been mightily blessed and provoked to deeper thought by your posts. Thank you.

    • Thank you for the encouragement. I do love writing them and am glad to hear when people are receiving help from them! God bless you. Have a wonderful Resurrection Sunday!

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