The Barnabas Group resumed its regular meetings on Wednesday after our break during Lent. We meet on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, in prayer and bible study, but with the aim of coming to a deeper understanding of the scriptures and so a deepening of our faith, enabling us to go out into the wider community as committed Christians. We welcome this opportunity to share our study with a wider audience, but nothing can be a substitute for joining us!! Details of where we meet etc. are published in the Notices. All would be welcome! We offer an opportunity to have minds and hearts stretched just a little bit!
On Wednesday, we tried to answer the question “Can we find 12 instances in the Bible of post-resurrection appearances by Jesus?” A challenge to be sure and with no certainty of finding as many as 12! But if we could, they would be a counter-balance to the 12 Stations of the Cross, traditionally celebrated by the Church before Easter. After opening prayers, we started by looking at Psalm 90, which compares and contrasts the everlasting nature of God with our own mortality. It may not be everyone’s favourite Psalm, but it does have some memorable verses, and, as possibly the earliest Psalm we have (composed by Moses?), it deserves to be “read, marked, learned and inwardly digested”! The words of verse 14 are brilliant… “Satisfy us with thy love, O God…that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” Contrast that with the stern words of verses 10-12…” 70 years is the span of our life, 80 if our strength holds…. teach us to order our days rightly.” Those last words are almost replicated word for word on a public building in Guildford. Can anyone supply the answer? (Hint …the words are actually in Latin and may be obscured by building works!)
So, we moved on to the recorded post-resurrection appearances. We looked first at 1 Corinthians 15.3-5. That is because Paul’s words pre-date the Gospel accounts by 20 years at least. Paul says “I told you the facts that I had received, namely that Christ died for our sins…that he was buried, that he was raised to life on the third day, and that he appeared to Peter, then the 12 disciples, then to 500 followers at one time, then to James and then to all the apostles, and finally to me.” So how many is that? 6, I think, for starters. And the word “appeared” is not the best translation. The Greek actually says “was seen for Peter etc.”
By contrast, the recorded appearances in the Gospels (some of which are clearly the same as those mentioned by Paul, admittedly at second hand) tend to stress the physical nature of the Resurrection. First the empty tomb, explained by subsequent events of “showings” to the disciples, to the 2 friends on the road to Emmaus, the second appearance to Thomas and the Galilee appearance. All stress the physical nature of the Resurrection…the invitation to Thomas to touch Jesus, and the occasions when Jesus ate meals with his followers, with additional appearances in Mark 16.9 and 12, John 20.24-7, and John 21.
That makes 10. Maybe we can add Stephen’s vision in Acts 7.56 and Peter’s vision in Acts 10.13. That would make 12!!
Some commentators would have us believe that the Pauline ones were more of a mystical nature, and the ones in the Gospels were for a Greco-Roman culture, more used to the concept of deification of the physical body. But, for me, this study confirmed my belief in the Resurrection.
We closed in prayer, as we had begun. (And at every meeting, refreshments are offered by our generous hosts!)