The Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus

It has often been remarked that there was something about the Risen Christ that made even those closest to him hesitate. He was familiar, yet strange. Mary Magdalene thought at first he was a gardener; the disciples in the gospel this morning are uncertain until Peter literally takes the plunge. Those blessed with a mind choc-full of certainty will have no difficulty explaining this to their own satisfaction, but for those of us more accustomed to complexity and contradiction — we of little faith, perhaps — will find here something worth pondering. The cosy, conventional Jesus of popular imagining has taken on something of the transcendence of Ezekiel’s vision. We are confronted by the mystery of the burning bush, the flaming seraphim, the utter holiness of God. It is as though a veil has been drawn aside and, like Moses, we are permitted to enter the dazzling darkness of God himself. These Resurrection gospels challenge us as no others do. Jesus is revealed to us as much more than a prophet, much more than a holy man. Will we adore him as God or not? We have to answer one way or the other, don’t we?

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8 thoughts on “The Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus”

  1. On a recent visit to Jerusalem, it was interesting that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was full of people, but that there were no visitors apart from our group at Emmaus.

  2. Although prophetic Isaiah said:-
    ‘He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him’.
    I love that description of him and take comfort from the fact that his post resurrection appearances are of the same order- no dazzling glory, but just natural and ordinary. Be prepared -we might entertain him unawares!I hope I’m not explaining things away to my own satisfaction, my faith is as weak as the next mans, but Jesus is an inspiration 🙂 ( I’ve started to use a lot more dashes, have you noticed?)

  3. I notice you describe the “dazzling darkness of God”. Does this speak to the mystery of God? I more usually think of God as Light.

    These post-resurrection appearances recounted in the Gospels always leave me wondering – what did they see. I feel I am reading it wrong because I am left with so many questions. We are left to rely on our Faith in him.

    There is something of Presence and Absence of God. He is both at the same time?

    • I was actually alluding to a phrase of Gregory of Nyssa, ‘the dazzling darkness of God,’ which he uses in connection with the scaling of the mountain by Moses as a type of contemplative prayer. I think most of us probably think of God as light, but he is also darkness inasmuch as he is beyond all analogies.

  4. Rightly or wrongly, I would say my faith is formed in part by what they saw, that because they saw and believed, I believe. Faith in Christ begins here, I think.

  5. I think there is something reassuring about the fact that they struggled to recognise him, even after knowing Jesus in person. It keeps the occasional, seeming absence of God in the world in perspective.

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