The followers of Jesus believed in his resurrection because they saw him alive after he was dead. They had a powerful testimony of firsthand evidence seen with their own eyes.
Mary Magdalene saw Jesus first. In John’s gospel chapter 20:14-16 we have the recorded appearance. “Jesus said to her, Mary! She turned and said to him ‘Rabboni’ which is to say teacher.”
Jesus next appeared to Mary the mother of James, Salome and Joanna. They were on their way to tell the disciples that an angel had told them Jesus had risen when he appeared before them. He greeted them and the women took hold of his feet and worshipped him. (Matthew 28:9) As with Mary Magdalene these three women also touched Jesus.
Jesus appeared to Peter. “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” (Luke 24:34) This was a private appearance and occasion where Jesus reassured Peter. Peter had earlier denied him.
Later on Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They had lost hope in Jesus and were leaving Jerusalem. They were not expecting Jesus to rise. Jesus approached them and began traveling with them. Luke 24:13-16.
Jesus’ last appearance on Easter Sunday was to the disciples with Thomas absent. It took place in the upper room in which Jesus had instituted the Lord’s Supper. It is recorded in Luke’s and John’s gospel. Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when he had said this, he showed them both his hands and his side. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord.”
There were other appearances of Jesus later as recorded in the scriptures but these were the five appearances on Easter.
The followers of Jesus were terrified. They had been hiding behind closed doors. They thought they could be arrested and crucified at any time, just like Jesus. Seeing Jesus alive turned their lives around completely. They were so empowered they went out to dynamically proclaim that Jesus had risen. Their message brought hope to a scared and hopeless society.
Last Easter most of the world sat behind closed doors for fear of Covid-19. Many church doors around the world were closed in fear. This Easter will be different as millions have received their vaccinations and are feeling hopeful. Most houses of worship will be open and many will go to church this Easter. It probably will not be like “before” Covid-19 as many have yet to be vaccinated and still will not feel safe to venture out.
America and the world have been down emotionally. Sickness, death, business failures and our Covid lifestyles have taken a lot out of us. We want to live again. Easter is about life, new life.
If you possibly can, get up, get out and celebrate life this Easter, safely. America is ready for a resurrection.