We have long understood that Jesus Christ was crucified on a Wednesday and was resurrected on the weekly Sabbath, three days and three nights later. He was put in the tomb as Wednesday was coming to an end, just prior to sunset. He came out of the tomb seventy-two hours later, as the weekly Sabbath was coming to an end, just prior to sunset. The following day, the resurrected Christ ascended to heaven, where He presented Himself before His Father. By doing so, He was accepted as the very first of the firstfruits, the perfect wave sheaf offering. This was the first time that He ascended to heaven. While He was resurrected once, He ascended to heaven, twice.
Between the time that he was resurrected and His final ascension, He was seen by many individuals over a span of forty days. These manifestations of Christ occurred after his resurrection, but prior to His final ascension to heaven, where He now sits at the Father’s right hand. By appearing in the flesh over a period of forty days, He provided further physical proof that He was no ordinary man, but was most certainly the Son of God. “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:1-3, New King James Version throughout).
The proofs that He gave were infallible, undeniable, certain, and convincing. This must have been very encouraging for those who believed. It must have been very troubling for those who did not. Even though we are separated by time from the events that occurred, we should also be very encouraged by the fact that Jesus appeared on multiple occasions after His crucifixion.
On Sunday morning, the day after He was resurrected, Mary Magdalene returned to the tomb and Jesus appeared to her alone in the garden (Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18). Jesus also appeared to the other women (Matt. 28:9-10). He appeared to two men on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-32). He also appeared to His disciples, with Thomas absent (John 20:19-25). All of these appearances occurred on Sunday, the day the wave sheaf was offered.
Eight days later, Jesus appeared to all of His disciples, including Thomas (John 20:26-29). During the remaining days before His ascension, He appeared several more times. He appeared to seven of His disciples by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-14). He also appeared to Peter, five hundred brethren, and James (I Cor. 15:5-7). He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem to receive the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:3-8). On the Mount of Olives, He ascended into heaven while the disciples watched (Matt. 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:9-11).
In summary, Jesus Christ appeared to numerous people at different times, after His resurrection. He ate and drank with them. He met them in Galilee. He allowed His body to be touched and handled by them. He instructed them. He appeared to five hundred people at once, and He continued these public manifestations of Himself for forty days, before His final ascension to heaven. Jesus Christ gave many physical proofs over the span of forty days, both to those who demanded proof, like Thomas, and to those who did not demand such proof. These examples are given to us, for our benefit (I Cor. 10:11). May the words of Jesus Christ ring true to each and every one of us. “Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’ ” (John 20:29).