Why didn't Jesus appear to more people after His resurrection?The New Testament provides a rich amount of information about Jesus and His life on earth, particularly the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). However, we must never assume that what we read in the Bible is the entirety of what Jesus did and who He interacted with. John wrote, "Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (John 21:25).
Here is who we know Jesus appeared to after His resurrection: Mary Magdalene and other women who loved and followed Jesus (Matthew 28:8–10; John 20:11–16), Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5), Cleopas and an unnamed disciple on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–35), the Twelve (Luke 24:36–43; John 20:19–23, 26–29; 21:4–14; Acts 1:3), more than 500 people at once (1 Corinthians 15:6), His half-brother James and other apostles (1 Corinthians 15:7), and to Paul in a vision after His ascension (Acts 9).
Some have argued that if Jesus had appeared to more people in wider circles that His resurrection would have been even more believable. However, this is not in line with how Jesus worked. When He taught and people followed Him, it wasn't everyone in the area. He never purposely sought attention or a platform. More strikingly, consider Jesus' words in the account of the rich man and Lazarus: "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead" (Luke 16:31). More "proof" does not automatically lead to more people believing. In fact, Romans 1:18–32 explains how people willingly rebel against God.
God has a purpose and plan that have been in motion since time began. Nothing can thwart Him (Isaiah 25:1). If Jesus left before millions of people witnessing Him in resurrected form, then the all-knowing, all-powerful God of the universe didn't see a need for it. Jesus told Thomas, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29). Romans 10:17 says, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." People don't need to physically see Jesus in order to believe in Him. We have more than enough evidence. Luke "having followed all things closely for some time past" wrote "an orderly account … that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught" (Luke 1:3–4). John wrote his gospel "so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31).
Remember, too, that the Holy Spirit was coming and would give His disciples inner power that was not possible without Jesus leaving (John 14:26; 16:4–11). When Peter first preached after the Holy Spirit came, about three thousand people trusted in Jesus in one day (Acts 2). The church kept growing from there, with more and more people coming to faith (Acts 4:1–4; 8:4–8; 10:34–38; 11:19–21; 13:1–3). Jesus had said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father" (John 14:12).
We can be assured that God gave us exactly what we need in order to believe in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. When Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy, he reminded him of this: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
It is not the number of witnesses in a trial that determines the success of the outcome. It is the quality of the witnesses and the evidence available that help a lawyer win his case. We have everything we need to believe that Jesus, the Son of God, died for our sins and defeated death.
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