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A Crowd of 500 (13-04-23)

A Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 15. 1 - 8

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also.



According to Matthew’s Gospel, there was a mighty earthquake at the moment of Jesus’ death. The earth shook, rocks split and tombs were broken open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs and after the resurrection they went into the city and appeared to many people. (See Matthew 27. 51 – 53) Then there was another violent earthquake at the resurrection, as an angel came down from heaven and rolled back the stone from the tomb where Jesus had been laid. That same crowd of people must have experienced these earthquakes too. Their whole lives were literally shaken to the core by these events. (See Matthew 28. 1ff) Not only do people see the risen Jesus, there are other resurrected people mingling with the crowds in Jerusalem. The impact of all this is mind-boggling.


After the resurrection, Jesus appeared on numerous occasions: He appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other women at the tomb; to the disciples behind closed doors in the upper room in Jerusalem; to two others on the road to Emmaus; to the disciples fishing, and so the list goes on. However, it is Paul who really makes the resurrection message clear and explicit, because the resurrection is central to the Christian faith.


Paul points out that on one occasion Jesus appeared to a crowd of five hundred people. Some of these people would surely have been present on Palm Sunday or at the crucifixion. They would have experienced the earthquakes. What is more, at the time of Paul’s writing most of these five hundred were still alive. These people were eye witnesses, who could tell others from first-hand experience. Whereas one or two people could be passed off as mistaken or deluded, it’s hard to ignore five hundred people, who had seen the same person in the same way at the same time.


What do you think? There will always be people who say that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, but read the Gospels and examine the evidence for yourself afresh. Allow God to speak to you afresh and give you a greater conviction of your faith. Hear afresh the words of Jesus to Thomas: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20. 29)


A Prayer

Living Lord, may I see you more clearly through the eyes of faith. Teach me the wonders of your risen life that I might follow you more closely and proclaim your risen life to others.

Amen.

See what a morning, (Resurrection Hymn) by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, sung by Kristyn Getty and choir




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