george hancock stefanThe gospels are in high drive when it comes to Resurrection Sunday. Matthew divides the 28th chapter into three sections –The Resurrection, The Guards’ Report, and The Great Commission. There is a possibility that the last section was spoken to the apostles when they met Jesus for the first time in Galilee (28:7), but most commentators argue that this section was given to them shortly before the Lord returns to heaven and his heavenly Father.

Mark titles his rendition of what happened The Resurrection (verses 16:1-8) and it is followed by eleven more verses, although some scholars argue Mark did not write the concluding section. My position is that even if he did not write that part, everything that he mentions there was fulfilled in the book of Acts.

The gospel of Luke divides the chapter into four sections: The Resurrection (24:1-12), On the Road to Emmaus (24:13-35), Jesus Appears to the Disciples (24:36 – 49), and The Ascension (24:50-53).

John is the writer with the most detail as he writes not only about the resurrection in chapter 20, but also about Jesus’s encounters with people afterwards in chapter 21. He recounts the empty tomb and Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene and the disciples. Then John adds two new sections in the next chapter, and he is the only disciple to write about Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish and Jesus reinstating Peter.

We are aware that there have been other appearances of the Lord Jesus Christ that are not mentioned in the gospels. In Acts 1:3 and 2:32, Peter talks about those appearances and Paul spends a great time expanding the list of those who met the Lord in 1 Cor. 15:3-8.

John 20:26 introduces the second appearance of Jesus to the gathered disciples. He writes, “A week later the disciples were in the house and Thomas was with them.” We do not know if other disciples had encounters with Jesus between the resurrection and that day, but we are sure that Thomas had not met the Risen Christ yet. These appearances show us what Jesus is doing after he rose from the dead: collectively the disciples had to see the Risen Jesus, they had to get used to doing ministry without the presence of the physical Jesus, and Jesus is slowly preparing them for His return to the Father – His Father and their Father.

The encounter with Thomas is important because of what Thomas says about Jesus. Mary Magdalene calls Him Rabonni when she meets Him in the garden. When she comes to the disciples, she tells them that she has seen the Lord but it is Thomas who makes the strongest testimony by calling him “My Lord and My God.”

We do not know exactly when the Christian Church started to celebrate the first day of the week as their day of worship but we know the theology behind it. The resurrection of Jesus states the beginning of the new order in the Kingdom of God, that he established by his preaching and miraculous activities. The apex of the miraculous activity of God was the resurrection of His Son. The new world order begins with the victory of Jesus Christ who is now declared by the Father to be the Lord and God and confessed as such by those who are following Him.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...