Christ’s Resurrection Ministry
This terse statement gives us the inspired record of the greatest proof of the resurrection, the proof of the Lord’s showing Himself to His disciples in their own actual experiences. The remembrances of those visible appearances of the Master were never forgotten by those who saw Him. Those early personal contacts with Him formed, to the end of their days, the unshakable foundation of the Apostles’ preaching and conduct.
The passing of the years has not minimized the importance of the power of those manifestations of the risen Christ, for they inspired in the hearts of those disciples true love, trust, and devotion. Our blessed Lord, after finishing the work of redemption, remained for forty days with His own in order to comfort, strengthen, and assure them. His ministry to them as He appeared in person is suggestive of the ministry that He carries on today through His presence within His people.
The first appearance of the Lord after His resurrection, which was to Mary Magdalene, intimates
His Ministry Of Sympathy - (John 20:1-18).
Through the Lord Jesus, Mary had experienced a great deliverance; consequently, she loved Him, and in her devotion lingered at His tomb long after others had returned to their own homes. Nothing would please her except a sight of her Lord. Her yearning heart was satisfied only when, although blinded by tears, she saw the Christ Himself. “Mary,” her name spoken by the Lord changed her deep sorrow into exquisite joy, He, the Good Shepherd thus called one of His sheep by name. In reply Mary said unto Him “Rabboni,” which really means, “My great Master,” and promptly yielded herself to the authority and supremacy of her risen Lord.
May His sorrowing saints in this late hour of the Church’s history remember that this same Jesus, Who dried Mary’s tears, lives to sympathize with them. As our Great High Priest, He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and able to succour all who are tempted.
His Ministry Of Courage - (John 20:19-23).
Christ appeared to the ten disciples shut in for fear, and He showed them His hands and side. This sight of their triumphant Lord changed these cringing men into joyful and courageous witnesses of His resurrection. In like manner, today, our blessed Lord inspires His trembling saints with valour in order that they might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of their lives (Luke 1:74-75). The disciples began that evening in sadness, but they ended it with gladness. The secret of this change lay in the fact that they had seen the Lord, and they had heard His voice saying, “Peace be unto you.” He had shown them His hands and His feet, and had delighted their hearts. Cheer up, discouraged saint! The risen Lord Jesus even now encourages each one by revealing Himself to them through His blessed Word.
His Ministry Of Assurance - (John 20:24-29).
Thomas, through being absent from the group on the first Lord’s day after the resurrection, missed the blessing of the presence of Christ. Moreover, during the week that followed he vowed that he would not believe what the others told him unless he saw the print of the nails in the hands of the Saviour. The Great Shepherd of the sheep, in His condescending love and infinite care, appeared especially for the benefit of this wayward one and showed to him the tangible proofs of His resurrection and life. All doubts of Thomas were changed into faith, and with humility in worship he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” and in this, he gave the greatest testimony to Christ that man can give. We do not need to see in order to believe; notwithstanding, it is good of the Lord to give this proof to Thomas, a proof that helps us today to overcome our doubts. These appearances of the risen Lord to the disciples were striking proofs of His resurrection and life. Furthermore, they were recorded for us, for it is written, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). “Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
His Ministry Of Recovery
(John 21:15-17). The living Saviour forgives the utter collapse and failure of faith. Peter probably would have given all that he owned to recall his words of denial. His Lord, before He went out to die, turned and looked upon him, and that was a ray of comfort in his troubled mind. Now that the Master was dead and buried, this greathearted fisherman longed for a sense of forgiveness.
The angel in the garden assured the trembling disciples that Christ was risen and commanded them saying, “Go your way, tell His disciples and Peter” (Mark 16:7). Later the eleven disciples declared, “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon” (Luke 24:34). A veil apparently is drawn over this special meeting with Peter, but it must have been the greatest moment in the life of this disciple, a moment in which he saw his Lord, and heard His own words of pardon. From the depths of his sad failure, he, by love divine was restored to fellowship with his now risen Lord.
There have been many who have failed like Peter by denying the Lord, if not in word in behaviour. For all such there is this same forgiveness of the risen Lord. It is still true of our Great Shepherd, “He restoreth my soul.” Though we have failed Him, there is no need to give up in despair. Think of our gracious Lord using the man who with oaths and curses had thrice denied that he belonged to Jesus, to win so many souls to Christ on the day of Pentecost. In this passage in John 21, the Lord commissions Peter to feed and shepherd His sheep. Take courage, failing saint, from this appearing to Peter of our risen Lord. Remember He still lives to forgive our failures and to restore us again into happy fellowship and service with Himself.
His Ministry Of Refreshment - (John 20:1-24).
In another of the recorded appearances of the resurrected Lord, He banishes care and despair from His disappointed disciples. Practical and bustling Peter saw that inactivity was useless, so he said to the others, “I go a fishing.” This proposal met with the instant approval of the others. Consequently, they go back to the fishing business from which the Lord had called them (Luke 5:10-11). Their venture was marked by disappointment and failure. Had they been successful that night, it would have been harder for them to renounce their boats and nets forever, but their non-success made them more willing to give it up and to turn their thoughts to catching men with the gospel net.
When morning dawned the disciples were tired, disappointed, and hungry. During this desperate state, the Lord appeared to them and dismissed their care and provided them with nourishing food, and restored them to fellowship with Himself. They went forth to fish in self-will; consequently they caught nothing. Any service originating in the energy of the flesh, even though securing the co-operation of others, is fruitless. Service directed by the risen Lord is always fruitful and happy. His presence immediately turns failure into success. When the Lord directed them to cast the net on the right side of the ship, they obeyed, and enclosed a great multitude of fishes. They then understood and said, “It is the Lord,” and reaching the shore they found that He had prepared a meal for them. How gracious! How considerate! The risen Lord showed His interest in their physical condition. He knew that they were cold and hungry, so He built a fire to warm them and prepared bread and fish to feed them. Our blessed Lord still refreshes His disheartened saints by the knowledge of His appearing for them in the presence of God. He knows all about their daily walk, and blesses their efforts in service with success in spite of much failure. The Christ Who made provision for the need of His tired disciples on this occasion, looks after the needs of His servants today. His provision is sure and unfailing.
In His resurrection glory, He is not far from any one of us, but is deeply interested in all that we undertake for Him. He shows sympathy even in our weaknesses.