Exploring and connecting pieces of the Easter story
By Felecia Wesley
When we explore the account of the Easter story in the New Testament, we unearth stories that are connected to Easter after Jesus’ resurrection but can be easily missed if one is not putting the pieces together. Growing up as a child, I thought that the Easter story ended after the Resurrection. However, as I grew older, I discover otherwise; that there is much more to the story beyond Easter Sunday. Sometime ago, I was teaching Bible study at our church during the Easter season and decided that we were going to explore Easter to find out if I was alone in my prior thinking. To my amazement, I was not alone. Most of the group members did not know the wealth of other things that Jesus did after his resurrection and how they are all connected to the easter story. He taught and interacted with his disciples and many other followers giving them hope and encouragement that he was indeed alive 40 days before he ascended to heaven according to Acts 1:3.
In John 20:11-18, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene who mistook him for the gardener. This was the first recorded sighting of him after the resurrection. Luke 24:13-35 gave us the account of Jesus’ appearance to the two men on the road to Emmaus. This story remains up to this day, in my opinion, one of the classic encounters of the resurrected Lord. It has all the components of daily life and community discussions. The two men are walking the 7.5 miles from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus and are in very deep conversation about the “breaking news” as it was throughout Jerusalem concerning the resurrection of Jesus and trying to make sense of the whole story. Not to mention the other version of the religious leaders, that his disciples came at night and stole Jesus’ body while the guards were asleep. As they were contemplating these things, Jesus joined the conversation all the way to the village with them and they did not even recognize that the one they were talking about was right there beside them. In so much that when he asked them what the conversation was about, one of them commented, “are you the only stranger in Israel and does not know what has unfolded these few days?” The two men still did not recognize Jesus and the conversation continued. As they got closer to the village, Jesus acted as though to pass on ahead, but they entreated him to stay with them until morning since it was late, so he did. It was not until at the meal table when he opened their eyes and revealed himself to them. Filled with excitement, they turned and ran literally another 7.5 miles back to Jerusalem to tell the others that they have seen the risen Lord. In John 20:19-23, he appeared to the disciples behind closed doors and encouraged them. He appeared a second time behind lock doors according to verses 24-29 of the same text and show his pierced hands and feet to doubting Thomas. In chapter 21:14 of John’s gospel, Jesus appears again to some of his down-hearted disciples on the sea of Tiberias and challenged them to launch into deep waters for a catch. To paraphrase the apostle John: these and many more infallible proofs recorded in the Bible that indeed Jesus was risen. All which accordingly could not be written, but these were written that you might believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that by believing, you might have eternal life through his name.
Felecia T. Wesley lives in Salisbury.