The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most significant events in human history. According to the Bible, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion, and he appeared to his disciples and many others over a period of 40 days before ascending into heaven. But what happened during those 40 days?
The First Appearance
The first appearance of Jesus after his resurrection was to Mary Magdalene. She had gone to the tomb and found it empty, but then saw Jesus standing there.
At first, she thought he was a gardener, but when he spoke her name, she recognized him. This encounter is recorded in John 20:11-18.
Appearances to the Disciples
Jesus appeared to his disciples several times during those 40 days. The first time was on the evening of Resurrection Day itself (Luke 24:36-43).
The disciples were hiding in fear when Jesus suddenly appeared among them. They were startled and frightened at first, but then he showed them his hands and feet which still bore the scars from his crucifixion. He also ate some fish with them to prove that he was not a ghost.
Another important appearance took place a week later when Thomas, who had not been present for the first appearance, finally saw Jesus for himself (John 20:24-29). He had doubted that Jesus had really risen from the dead until he saw him with his own eyes.
Jesus also appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). They did not recognize him at first, but then he explained how all of Scripture pointed to him as the Messiah.
In addition to these appearances to specific individuals or groups, there were also other instances where Jesus appeared more broadly. For example, one time he appeared to over 500 people at once (1 Corinthians 15:6). This was likely the most significant and widespread appearance.
After these appearances, Jesus led his disciples out to the Mount of Olives, where he blessed them and then was taken up into heaven (Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:9-11). This is known as the Ascension.
So, to summarize, Jesus appeared to many people over a period of 40 days after his resurrection. He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, then to his disciples several times, and also to others such as the two on the road to Emmaus and the 500 mentioned by Paul.
Finally, he ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives. These events are recorded in various places throughout the New Testament and are foundational to Christian belief.