The Resurrection, Easter Sunday, the day that Jesus came out of the tomb but is that really what the Resurrection was to the early church? C.S. Lewis in the sixteenth chapter of his book Miracles makes the point that the modern church may have that wrong. Instead of five minutes or an hour or even until sundown the Resurrection is the forty-day period of time up to the Ascension. Lewis says, “It is not the action of raising from the dead but the state of having risen.” This period of time is only lightly covered in the Gospels but has its foretelling in the Feast found in Leviticus 23 and Exodus 23.
Many people witnessed the Resurrection and their testimony on the topic was important in the Church. It started with the women on the morning of the Lord’s Feast of Unleavened Bread and that of “Firstfruits.” This was also the beginning of the Feast of Weeks, which ends in what we call Pentecost. So following Paul’s list in 1 Corinthians 15: 5 – 8 and adding in the ones from the Gospels the appearances of Jesus during the Resurrection were:
- The women (Mary Magdalene)
- The disciples on the road to Emmaus
- The Twelve (twice)
- The five hundred
- The other apostles
After the meetings with the Twelve they went to Galilee like Jesus had instructed them and they saw Him there on the mountain. The story of Peter and the “great catch of the fish” (John 21) took place in Galilee but the Ascension happened near Bethany. So it seems that the Disciples did a lot of traveling during this forty-day period.
I found that the two appearances to the Twelve in John 20 were based on the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The first one would have been the start of the Feast and the second visit was the end of the Feast (Leviticus 23: 4 – 8). The Disciples were observing the Feast and honoring their Jewish beliefs.