Stop the Presses!

33 And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, 34 saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon. 35 They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread. 36 While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be to you.” But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. Luke 24:33-40

I want to have Cleopas and his friend huffing and puffing in the midst of the disciples, excitedly telling them of their encounter with Jesus, and, lo and behold, he appears to all of them! Yet their encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus was early on, likely later on Resurrection Day, and verse 33 says “the eleven and others” were there in the room when they came back.

My problem is how to fit Thomas’ eight day period of doubt and separation (John 20:24, 26) into all the post-resurrection Jesus sightings (especially this one), since Thomas was clearly one of “the eleven” as stated in verse 33, and he’d still have to doubt Jesus had risen after seeing for himself convincing proof (verses 39-40) that very night.

Since the commentators I read didn’t bother to resolve this chronological problem, so that I could get on with writing, I’ve chosen to place this account later on the timeline, since Jesus chides the group for their demonstrated unbelief, and the issue of a brooding and doubting Thomas can be resolved in the context of verse 39, when he says, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

Mark’s account also seems to provide more wiggle room, saying,

12 After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country. 13 They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either. 14 Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. Mark 16:12–14

Even with this apparent “out,” I’m reminded of the historic debate about the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20. To this, my settled opinion is that God has decreed that these verses stay in the Canon, no matter what, and that they are available for use on occasions like these. I was taught early on not to “build a doctrine on them,” which now appears extreme. Bottomline, Mark’s final verses are consistent with the rest of scripture.

So, my parenthetical comments here highlight the importance of careful Bible study, and a teacher’s need to know. We who might put ourselves “out there” proclaiming “the truth,” will have to give an account for our diligence and accuracy (James 3:1). I’m sure in the interest of time I’ve not always foreclosed all the “rabbit trails,” but when I hear in my head that what I’m writing may not square, I stop the presses, lick my finger, and hit the books.

And now for the rest of story…

About Rick Reynolds

You'll find me in the far right hand corner of evangelical Christianity. Been studying the Word for nearly 45 years and counting.
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