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THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF
THE RISEN CHRIST TO HIS DISCIPLES

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, April 11, 2010

“Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36).


Judas was dead. He committed suicide after betraying Jesus. Thomas was not there for some reason. But the other ten Disciples gathered that evening. It was the end of Sunday, the day Christ rose from the dead. We are indebted to the Apostle John for telling us that it was,

“…the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (John 20:19).

It was Sunday evening, “the first day of the week” on the Roman calendar. Jesus had risen early on Sunday morning – and now He appeared to those ten Disciples on Sunday evening. Thus, the first Christian service was held on Sunday evening. Many churches today have stopped meeting on Sunday night. What a shame! They are no longer following the example of that first Sunday service – which was in the evening! Our Baptist forefathers always met on Sunday night. How I pray that our churches will go back to their method! Sunday night is nearly always the best service in the week. Often revival has begun in the evening service. As it was in the beginning, so it was when revival came,

“Jesus himself stood in the midst of them” (Luke 24:36).

Notice that the Disciples were afraid when they saw Jesus. “They were terrified and affrighted” (Luke 24:37). This shows that they did not expect Jesus to rise from the dead. He had told them He would, but they had not listened to Him. He told them that “they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again” (Luke 18:33; Matthew 20:18; Mark 10:33) – but somehow they had not remembered what He said. So they were “terrified” when He appeared to them, resurrected from the dead. And so, to calm their fears, Jesus said to them, “Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36).

From this wonderful passage of Scripture we learn of the certainty of Christ’s resurrection, and the character of the risen Christ.

I. First, the certainty of Christ’s resurrection.

“And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet” (Luke 24:36-40).

When I was in a liberal seminary, I heard unbelieving professors quote the modernist theologian Rudolph Bultmann, who said, “Jesus rose from the dead in the minds of the Disciples.” That was the slippery way this German liberal spoke, claiming that Christ didn’t really rise from the dead – the Disciples only thought He did! But that wasn’t true at all! The Disciples thought the exact opposite! They thought He had not risen! That is why they were “terrified and affrighted” when they saw Him (Luke 24:37).

They knew that Jesus had been flogged half to death. They knew that He had been nailed to a cross. They knew that He was dead, and that he had been buried in a sealed tomb. They had been frightened, and had locked themselves in a room that night out of fear. But there He was! He had broken the chains of death. And now He stood right in front of them!

“Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36).

No fact in history is better attested than the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Thomas Arnold, professor of history at Oxford University, and one of the world’s great historians said,

I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better, fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair enquirer, than the great sign which God has given us that Christ died, and rose again from the dead (Thomas Arnold, Ph.D., Sermons on Christian Life, Its Fears and Its Close, 6th edition, London, 1854, p. 324).

One of the great proofs of Christ’s resurrection is the fact that it completely changed the Disciples. When Jesus was arrested, the night before His crucifixion, “All the disciples forsook him, and fled” (Matthew 26:56). After Christ was buried, they locked themselves in a room out of “fear” (John 20:19). But after they encountered the risen Christ, they went out as bold as lions – and preached to the very men who had crucified Christ,

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

The eleven Disciples went out fearlessly into the world proclaiming His resurrection from the dead! After they encountered the risen Christ, nothing but death itself could stop them from proclaiming,

“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses”
      (Acts 2:32).

Dr. Gary Habermas said,

The resurrection [of Jesus] was undoubtedly the central proclamation of the early church from the very beginning. The earliest Christians didn’t just endorse Jesus’ teachings; they were convinced that they had seen him alive after his crucifixion. That’s what changed their lives and started the church. Certainly, since this was their centermost conviction, they would have made absolutely sure that it was true (cited in The Case for Christ Study Bible, Lee Strobel, general editor, Zondervan, 2009, p. 1505).

The resurrection of Christ from the dead – “that’s what changed their lives and started the church.” Amen!

Peter beheld Him there on the shore,
Ate with Him there by the sea;
Jesus was saying, with lips once dead,
“Peter, dost thou love Me?”
He who was dead is alive again!
He who was dead is alive again!
Broken the strong, icy clutches of death –
He who was dead is alive again!
   (“Alive Again” by Paul Rader, 1878-1938).

These men died for proclaiming the resurrection of Christ! They were changed from cowards to martyrs because they had seen Christ after He rose from the grave!

James the Son of Zebedee was beheaded.
  Matthew was beheaded.
    James, the Lord’s brother, was thrown from the top of the
      Temple, and then beaten to death.
        Matthias was stoned and beheaded.
          Andrew was crucified.
            Mark was dragged to death.
              Peter was crucified upside down.
                Paul was beheaded.
                  Jude was crucified.
                    Bartholomew was beaten and crucified.
                      Luke was hanged on an olive tree.
                        John was cast into a vessel filled with boiling oil
                         and exiled to the Isle of Patmos.
                           Thomas was run through with spears,
                            and thrown into the flames of an oven.
(The New Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Bridge-Logos Publishers,
     1997, pp. 5-10).

Dr. D. James Kennedy said that men “do not die for what they know is false” (Why I Believe, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005, p. 127).  These men went through hideous sufferings and horrible deaths because they preached that Christ rose from the dead. Men don’t die for something they haven’t seen! These men saw Christ after He rose from the grave! That’s why torture and the threat of death could not stop them from proclaiming “Christ has risen from the dead!”

Thomas beheld Him there in the room,
Called Him his Master and Lord,
Put forth his fingers into the holes
Made by the nails and sword.
He who was dead is alive again!
He who was dead is alive again!
Broken the strong, icy clutches of death –
He who was dead is alive again!
   (Paul Rader, ibid.).

“Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36).

II. Second, the character of the risen Christ.

It is important to know what Jesus was like after He rose from the dead. We discover from this passage in Luke that,

“Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever”
      (Hebrews 13:8).

Jesus was the same after He rose from the dead – and He is still the same today!

He was anxious to bring peace to the hearts of His people. No sooner did He appear to them than He said, “Peace be unto you.” Jesus wants us to be happy. While He was on earth He said,

“Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:1).

He says that today. He wants Christians to have His joy in them, that their joy may be full. Even when we are distressed, Jesus whispers to us, “Peace be unto you.” He loved His Disciples in the room that night. They were afraid of what might happen. But He came to them and said, “Peace be unto you” – and then the Disciples were glad. He gives the same peace to His disciples today – peace that passes human understanding!

He also encouraged them to have faith in Him. He said,

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

He wanted them to know that He was not a spirit. He told them to “handle” Him – to touch Him – and see that it was really Him – that His physical body had truly risen from the dead. A few days later he said to doubting Thomas,

“Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing” (John 20:27).

Dr. Henry M. Morris said,

The Lord answers modern [liberal] theologians, who interpret the resurrection as spiritual, rather than physical…He also refutes those who argue that the “appearances” to His disciples were “spiritual appearances,” or even hallucinations. Even they [His Disciples] at first thought He was a spirit, but He then showed them the scars of the spikes that had pierced His hands and feet and even ate part of a fish and a honeycomb before them (Luke 24:37, 40, 42). They could no longer doubt the reality of His bodily resurrection, nor did they ever doubt it thereafter (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995, pp. 1128-1129; note on Luke 24:39).

How sad it is that today many evangelicals think of Jesus as a spirit. This is essentially a Gnostic view of Christ. The Gnostics believed that physical matter is evil and only the spirit is good. Thus they rejected the physical, bodily resurrection of Christ. The heresy of neo-Gnosticism blends with new-age ideas, creating a false Christ – one that is only a spirit. The Apostle John, in his first epistle, refuted that heresy when he said, “Our hands have handled” Christ (I John 1:1). The Gnostic, new-age “spirit Christ” is not Jesus! It is “another Jesus” (II Corinthians 11:4), not the real Jesus that the Disciples saw and touched after He rose from the dead.

“Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (I John 4:3).

Therefore those who think of Jesus as a spirit are not “of God” – for they are speaking of “another Jesus,” not the real Jesus, whose flesh and bone body rose from the dead! The real Jesus said,

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

I have been reading a magazine article titled, “When the Spirit Moves You” (Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA Weekend, April 2-4, 2010, pp. 6-7). The author says, “This holy season you can stay close to God – even when you’re not close to a [church] pew; when the Spirit moves you.” That about sums up the neo-Gnostic “spirituality” of the new-age movement of the old Hippie (Boomer) generation. They are riding high now. Between the ages of 45 and 65, the Hippie generation has always been overawed by “inner feelings” and self-centered worship.

But the Bible calls us away from our inner feelings and experiences. Christ is not “God as we understand Him.” Oh, no! Christ is the God-man as we do not understand Him! He is revealed to us in the Bible. The Christ of the Bible is transcendent – that is, He is up in Heaven, seated at the right hand of God. Only when God’s Spirit draws us away from ourselves can we know Christ. The Spirit of God shows us our sin, and humbles us in conviction. Then, and only then, God’s Spirit draws us up, out of ourselves, to Christ – seated at the right hand of God in Heaven. When we are drawn out of ourselves – and up to Christ – then He speaks to us as He did on that first Easter Sunday – and says,

“Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36).

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

May God convict you of sin and humble you. May He draw you up to Christ in the “third heaven” (II Corinthians 12:2).

“So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God”
       (Mark 16:19).

“Being by the right hand of God exalted” (Acts 2:33).

“Who is even at the right hand of God” (Romans 8:34).

“On the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).

When you are convicted of sin, and disgusted by your “desperately wicked” heart (Jeremiah 17:9) – then you may be prepared for God to draw you up to Jesus Christ for justification and cleansing by His Blood. Remember that Jesus said,

“Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…”
       (John 6:43-44).

You must be drawn away from the world, away from your own emotions and feelings, away from yourself – and you must be drawn up, above the clouds, above the stars, to Jesus – the God-man, the only sacrifice for sins, the only one who can save your soul from the wrath of God, the only one who can wash away your sins with His precious Blood, and the only one who can give you eternal peace! When you come to Jesus, it will be for you as it was for the Disciples on that first Sunday night,

“Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 24:36-43.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Alive Again” (by Paul Rader, 1878-1938).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF
THE RISEN CHRIST TO HIS DISCIPLES

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36).

(John 20:19; Luke 24:37; 18:33; Matthew 20:18; Mark 10:33)

I.   First, the certainty of Christ’s resurrection, Luke 24:36-40;
Matthew 26:56; John 20:19; Acts 4:12; 2:32.

II.  Second, the character of the risen Christ, Hebrews 13:8;
John 14:1; Luke 24:39; John 20:27; Luke 24:37, 40, 42;
I John 1:1; II Corinthians 11:4; I John 4:3;
II Corinthians 12:2; Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33; Romans 8:34;
Hebrews 1:3; Jeremiah 17:9; John 6:43-44.