April 13, 2016: The 40 Days Following the Resurrection

~by Susi Pittman


Of all the events that point to the Divine life of Jesus, the one that absolutely fascinates me is that following His Resurrection, he walked among the people of His time once again in His beautiful restored human form for 40 DAYS!

Can you imagine how astounding that would be today?! Why every news network, magazine, newspaper, media giant and online server would be heralding the miracle! It would not be the Night of the Living Dead; it would be the Day of the Risen Living!

Where in the Bible are the eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection referenced?

The best place to start is the Gospels.

We know that it was Mary Magdalene who arrived at Jesus’ tomb early on the third day, and that she saw Jesus first.

  • Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and she saw the stone taken away from the tomb…Mary was standing outside weeping at the tomb. So, as she wept, she stooped down and looked into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid. They said to her, ‘Woman, why art thou weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this she turned round and beheld Jesus standing there, and she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why art thou weeping? Whom dost thou seek’ She, thinking that he was the gardener, said to him, ‘Sir, if thou has removed him tell me where thou hast laid him and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, “Mary!’ Turning, she said to him, ‘Rabboni!’ Jesus said to her, ‘Do no touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father, but go to my brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene came, and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord, and these things he said to me.’ St. John 20:1,11-18.

On this same day two of Jesus’ disciples were on their way to the village of Emmaus and Jesus joined them in their walk.

  • And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which is sixty stadia from Jerusalem. And they were talking to each other about all these things that had happened. And it came to pass, while they were conversing and arguing together, that Jesus himself also drew near and went along with them; but their eyes were held, that they should not recognize him…And it came to pass when he reclined at table with them, that he took the bread and blessed and broke and began handing it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. St. Luke 24:13-16, 30-31

What I find fascinating in both of these accounts, is that recognition of Jesus only came when HE allowed them to see Him. These were purposeful encounters, given to us by Jesus that if we truly know Him, live our lives for Him we will recognize Him at the end of our days with a “Rabboni!” and embrace our share of the eternal life promised to us by Him.

Jesus also appeared to the eleven Apostles, excluding Thomas.

  • Now while they were talking of these things, Jesus stood in their midst, and said to them, ‘Peace to you! It is I, do not be afraid…see my hands and feet, that it is I myself. Feel me and see; for a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ And having said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. St Luke 24: 36, 39-40.

It was important that the Apostolic Fathers, founders of the Catholic Church be eyewitnesses to His Risen presence as this experience would fortify them with faith beyond measure to withstand the ministerial work and persecution that would be yet to come. It was a week later when Jesus joined the Apostles again, this time with Thomas present.

  • But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ …Jesus came, the doors being closed and stood in their midst, and said, ‘Peace be to you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Bring here thy finger and see my hands; and bring here thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas answered and said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’

Even today, the doubting continues. There are the believers and non-believers and yet Jesus is ready to present Himself to any non-believer, if they truly want to experience Him. Jesus also made an appearance at the Sea of Tiberius.

  • After these things, Jesus manifested himself again at the sea of Tiberius…There were together Simon Peter and Thomas…and Nathanael…and the sons of Zebedee, and to others of his disciples…This is now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he had risen from the dead. St John 21:1-2, 14.

Beyond the Apostles and disciples, Jesus appeared to crowds of hundreds in Galilee and Judea during this time (Acts 13:31) and most certainly to thousands before His Ascension.

  • He appeared to Cephas, and after that to the Eleven. Then he was seen by more than five hundred brethren at one time… 1 Corinthians 15: 5-6

And of course, before the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven, He was at Bethany.

  • Now he led them out towards Bethany, and he lifted up his hands and blessed them, that he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.

Now there were others outside of Biblical authors who recorded important facts that Jesus did resurrect and walk among the people for 40 days.

Eusebius (263-339AD) was a Roman historian, exegete, and Christian polemicist of Greek descent. Like one of our modern day news reporters, he interviewed people who had known people who had seen the Risen Jesus. They spoke of seeing Jesus healing people, performing miracles and other supernatural things. In his work titled Church History, he shares a missionary purpose that abounds with historical details. The opening words state Eusebius’s six interests, one of them being; to relate the many important events that are said to have occurred in the history of the church, and Jesus is the central figure of the Christian Church.

The contemporary Jewish historian Josephus also referenced the Resurrection of Christ and his writings were key to Eusebius’ research.

St. Thomas Aquinas writes: Concerning the Resurrection two things had to be manifested to the disciples, namely, the truth of the Resurrection, and the glory of Him who rose. Now in order to manifest the truth of the Resurrection, it sufficed for Him to appear several times before them, to speak familiarly to them, to eat and drink, and let them touch Him. But in order to manifest the glory of the risen Christ, He was not desirous of living with them constantly as He had done before, lest it might seem that He rose unto the same life as before. (ST III, q.55, a.3)

The risen Savior, Lord of Creation is indeed alive and well, living at the Right Hand of God. He cares about each and every one of us and asks us to believe that which He completed in love for us…a perfect life without sin, offered up in total obedience to His Father in a perfect sacrifice unto death for OUR sins, thus Resurrecting and 40 days later Ascending into Heaven to await our return into the eternal kingdom He has prepared for us if we but believe.

Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature.

~Jesus~

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Susi Pittman is founder of CatholicStewardsofCreation.com and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; an advocate for the Florida Catholic Conference;
a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.

*** Visit SUSI WEEKLY ARCHIVE ***

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