Answering The Atheist
May 29, 2005 / Volume 5, Issue 22
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Where did Jesus first appear to the eleven disciples after His resurrection? Was it on a mountain top in Galilee (Matthew 28:16), or was it in a room in Jerusalem (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:33-37; John 20:19)? Is there a contradiction?
It is true that Jesus had commanded His disciples to meet Him at an appointed place in Galilee. When Jesus met the women who had come to the tomb to anoint Him, He asked that they tell the apostles to meet where He had formerly agreed with them (Matthew 28:10). However, when the women told the disciples, they did not believe (Mark 16:10-11). Besides appearing to the women, He appeared to two others, who likewise came and bore witness of His resurrection to the apostles, but still they did not believe (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-35).
In Luke's account, we are told that Jesus appeared to the apostles while these other men were still speaking (Luke 24:36). This would be the same appearance which is recorded in Mark 16:14 and John 20:19. John specifically tells us that it was the first day of the week (ie. the day upon which Jesus had risen from the dead).
Though it was Jesus' plan to meet with His disciples in Galilee immediately after His resurrection, their unbelief required that He first appear to them in Jerusalem. The wording of Matthew 28:16-17 certainly leaves room for the Lord's appearance to the eleven in Jerusalem prior to being in Galilee.
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible