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Outlines Of New Testament History -Rev. Francis E. Gigot D.D.



              1. Our Lord’s Resurrection Entirely Unexpected.




              2. The Visits to the Sepulchre:

              The holy women.


                            Peter and John.


                            The soldiers report and are bribed by the priests and ancients.






              1. On the Day of the Resurrection.

              to Mary Magdalen alone.


                            to the other women mentioned in St. Mark 16:1.


                            to Simon Peter alone.


                            to two disciples going to Emmaus.


                            to the apostles in the absence of Thomas.




              2. Up to the Ascension:

              In Jerusalem (a week later): to the apostles, in the presence of Thomas.




                            In Galilee:

              to seven disciples.


                                          To the eleven.


                                          To 500 brethren.




                            In Jerusalem?

              to James only.


                                          to all the Apostles.






              1. Time and Place.


              2. Our Lord’s Last Words and Actions.




Conclusion of the Life of Christ (John 20:30, 31; 21:24, 25)


§ 1. The Resurrection

1. Our Lord’s Resurrection Entirely Unexpected. The day which followed the burial of Jesus was a day of exulting triumph for His enemies. Without the least popular tumult they had arrested, tried, and sentenced Jesus and had caused Him to pass in the eyes of the public for a blasphemer justly condemned to death by the highest authorities of the land. He had undergone a most shameful and most cruel death hard by the walls of the Holy City, and large multitudes had seen Him hanging upon the cross as a criminal accursed by God. His immediate followers were dispersed, and a Roman guard watched over His sealed tomb. What appearance was there that He should be heard of again except as “a seducer,” that is, as one of the many unsuccessful adventurers who had excited and disappointed the hopes of a credulous people? In this frame of mind Our Lord’s enemies never entertained seriously the thought that His words about His future resurrection could prove to be true.

Meantime the disciples of Jesus were wholly disheartened by the ignominious sufferings and death of Him whom they had hoped should be the Redeemer of Israel. During these hours of discouragement and stupor it never came to their minds that, since everything had so far come to pass as He had foretold, His arising from the tomb, so distinctly predicted by Him, would also come to pass. In point of fact they so completely lost sight of His prophetical words in this respect that when the first reports of Our Lord’s resurrection reached them they treated them as “idle tales,” unworthy of credence, It is plain, therefore, that the disciples of Jesus did not expect His resurrection any more than His enemies, and that if later they believed in His resurrection they yielded assent only to the strongest and clearest evidence.

2. The Visits to the Sepulchre. The first to pay a visit to the tomb of Jesus, on the first day of the week, were the holy women who desired very much to complete the embalming of their Lord. They started from Jerusalem as early as possible on that Sunday morning, not knowing that the sepulchre of their Master had been sealed during the course of the Sabbath and was guarded by the Roman soldiers, so that the only difficulty which occurred to their minds, in the way of accomplishing their pious designs, was that of removing the enormous stone they had seen rolled to the entrance of Our Lord’s tomb. While they were on their way to the sepulchre the earthquake mentioned by St. Matthew took place, an angel descended and rolled the stone away, probably only to allow the holy women to enter, for Jesus had risen before the stone was removed. As they approached the sepulchre, they saw the stone rolled away, and one of them, Mary Magdalen, who naturally inferred that the body of her Lord had been taken away by the Jews, ran in deep excitement to announce it to Peter and John.

As at this moment the angel was not actually sitting on the removed stone, and the soldiers had already departed, the other women approached nearer and soon entered the sepulchre. There they met angels, one of whom, calming their fears, told them that Jesus was risen, and bade them announce that He would meet His disciples in Galilee; whereupon the holy women left the sepulchre and, saying nothing to the strangers whom they met by the way, they hastened to find those for whom their message was intended.

Soon after their departure Peter and John, warned by Mary Magdalen, come running with all speed, soon enter the open sepulchre, examine everything, believe in Our Lord’s resurrection, and then return home, while Mary Magdalen, who had followed them back to Our Saviour’s tomb, remained behind weeping.

Meantime the Roman guards, who at first had been struck with terror by the appearance of the angel who rolled the stone away from the door of the sepulchre, not only fled, but hastened to report to the chief priests their breach of duty, and in order to exculpate themselves, they detailed all that had occurred. At this news a meeting of the Sanhedrim was convened, wherein it was resolved to conceal by every means the miraculous disappearance of the body of Jesus. Accordingly the chief priests and ancients gave heavy bribes to the soldiers, who were thereby induced to affirm that while they were sleeping, Our Lord’s body had been carried away by His disciples; and this story, industriously spread by the Jewish leaders, soon obtained general credence among the Jewish multitude.

§ 2. Successive Apparitions of Jesus

1. Apparitions on the Day of the Resurrection. The first of Our Lord’s apparitions recorded in the Gospels occurred in favor of Mary Magdalen, whom an intense sorrow detained in the garden, and near the sepulchre of Jesus, even after the return of Peter and John to the Holy City. Absorbed in her grief, and not expecting to see our risen Saviour, she at first mistook Him for the gardener, but when Jesus pronounced her name, she at once recognized the well-known tones of His voice, and exclaimed, “My Master!” In her transports of joy she wished to detain Him that she might express to Him all her feelings of loving gratitude, but Jesus would not allow it; He bade her go and say to His disciples, “I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God.”

The second apparition of Our Lord was granted to the other women mentioned in St. Mark (16:1), who had the inestimable privilege of kissing His feet in mark of reverent worship, and to whom He gave this message: “Go tell My brethren that they go into Galilee; there they shall see Me.” It should be noticed that up to this time Jesus had appeared only to women, and that this was deemed by Our Lord’s disciples quite sufficient to question the reality of His resurrection.

We have no details respecting the third apparition of Jesus; it is simply stated that He “appeared to Simon,” and the fact seems to have been the starting point of the belief of some disciples.|

Our Lord’s fourth apparition on this glorious day of His resurrection is, on the contrary, recorded quite at length by St. Luke (24:13–35). As two of His disciples were going to Emmaus—a town which cannot be identified with certainty in the present day, but which was about 7 or 8 miles from Jerusalem—Jesus joined them without being recognized by them. During the conversation which ensued, they stated their own discouraging views about the events of the preceding week and those of the present day, and then it was that Our Lord taught them from the Scriptures that the Christ should “suffer these things and so to enter into His glory.” It was only when, being at table with them, “He took bread and blessed and brake and gave to them,” that they recognized Jesus, who at the same moment vanished out of their sight. That very evening they returned to Jerusalem and told the apostles what had occurred.

“While they were speaking these things” Jesus appeared for the fifth and last time on the day of His resurrection. As He stood suddenly in their midst the ten apostles present—Thomas was then absent—were greatly disturbed, so that to convince them that they did not simply see a spirit He allowed them to see and touch His hands and feet and He ate before them; then He gave them power to remit and retain sins.

2. Apparitions up to the Ascension. A week elapsed, and Our Lord, appearing for the sixth time, found the apostles still in Jerusalem, probably in the upper room where He had celebrated the last supper. This time Thomas was present, and as he heard Jesus bidding him to examine for himself as he had desired to do he felt fully convinced of Our Saviour’s resurrection, and he therefore exclaimed, “MY LORD AND MY GOD!” This fervent act of faith in Our Lord’s resurrection and divinity was praised by Jesus, who then added: “Blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed!”

At length, all the apostles being convinced that Jesus was truly risen, complied with His often-repeated directions to repair to Galilee. The first recorded apparition of Our Lord in that province occurred by the lake of Genesareth. He appeared to seven of His disciples, who, in company with Peter, had spent the whole night in unsuccessful efforts to catch fishes, and He bade them cast their net on the right side of the ship. This they did, and their obedience was at once rewarded by an abundant draught of fishes similar to the one granted to them during Our Lord’s mortal life. The beloved disciple was the first to recognize Jesus, and he said so to Peter, who, with his usual impetuosity, cast himself into the sea and came to his Master without delay. It was also on this memorable occasion that Christ, having asked Peter three times, “Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me?” invested him with the supreme pastoral office in the Christian Church, and foretold to him the manner of his death, a thing which Jesus declined to do when this same disciple inquired about the future of St. John.

Our Lord’s next apparition in Galilee occurred on a mountain, which He Himself had indicated beforehand, but which is not named in the Gospel narrative. The eleven were present—probably with some other disciples—and they received from Him to whom “all power was given in heaven and on earth” their great commission to teach and baptize all nations, fully sure that their Master would be with them “all days, even to the consummation of the world.”

The last apparition of Jesus before His ascension was granted to all the apostles, who were gathered together once more in Jerusalem, probably in the upper room. The festival of Pentecost was not far distant and they were bidden “stay in the city” till they should “be endued with power from on high.”

§ 3. The Ascension (May 18, A.D. 30)

1. Time and Place. For forty days our risen Saviour had lingered on this earth, appearing time and again to His chosen witnesses, and now the time had come when He was to withdraw entirely His visible presence from them. The place from which He chose to take His final departure was a spot on “the Mount of Olives,” apparently on its eastern slope in view of Bethany and about three-quarters of a mile from the Holy City. A very old tradition, however—it goes back to the second century of our era—places Our Lord’s ascension on the western side of Mount Olivet and upon its central summit; and this tradition is not yet entirely disproved.|

2. Our Lord’s Last Words and Actions. It was the feeling of the apostles when Jesus led them out of Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives that something great was at hand, and, as their national expectations of a Messianic temporal rule had revived with the certainty of their Master’s resurrection, “they asked Him, saying: Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” This question proves clearly how little they had realized Our Lord’s teachings about the nature of His kingdom, and how much they needed the light of the Holy Spirit to understand the very nature of their own mission after the departure of their Master. The answer of Jesus was such as not to hurt their feelings, and yet such as to prepare their minds for their real mission; the coming of His kingdom they had to leave to His Father’s care, and their own mission of witnesses of His resurrection, divinity, teachings, etc., they would courageously discharge for the benefit of all nations after they had received the power of the Holy Ghost.

Meantime Our Lord had reached with them the Mount of the Ascension; there, lifting up His hands, He rose from their sight and slowly disappeared in a cloud, “and was carried up to heaven,” where “He sitteth on the right hand of God.”

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