Witnesses to the Resurrection

Throughout Christmas our family has studied the witnesses to the birth of the Savior. We talk about the shepherds, the angels, Mary and Joseph, Anna and Simeon and the wisemen. Last year for Easter (Passover in most languages) I asked my children about the witnesses of the Resurrection. We spent time in the scriptures looking them all up and compiled a list (I share this with you at the end). We were shocked to learn about the 500 men he visited and the intimate interaction with the 2 men on the road to Emmaus. Here are a few messages we discussed as we studied the witnesses:

Mary Magdalene (John 20:1; 11-18) was the first to see the Resurrected Lord (YHWH). She was at the tomb when she noticed the stone was rolled away and she wondered who had taken Jesus’ body. She had the expectation that his body would be there and it was not. How many times do we have unmet expectation? What is our response? Do we get angry? run away? get busy and search for why? sulk? what is your reaction to unmet expectations? Just as Christ was there with Mary he is there for us. Do we recognize him or his voice? He knows our name, He knows our desires. Turn to him. Don’t allow your expectations to keep you from allowing him to guide your life.

Peter and two other apostles (John 20:2-10) ran to the empty sepulchre which Mary had told them about. Peter was the first to enter. They saw his linens folded on the bench “and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.” What was the meaning of this folded “napkin?”

In those days there was a custom that if a man wrinkled up his napkin at the table and dropped it in front of him on his dish or on the table, it signaled the host that he would not be returning and they could clean up. If he folded it and set it to the side it meant, “I will return” and he was only stepping out for a moment. So when Jesus folded up the napkin it was a sign that he would return. John supposedly understood this message, for “he saw, and believed.” While the others “knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.”

Does Jesus leave you messages? I love looking for messages from him. I notice little things mostly. Once I saw an insect I didn’t recognize. He was about to fly off and I asked that I could examine him a little closer. He flew to my hand I smiled and mentally took pictures of this unique shape. then as if to say good bye, he looked up briefly and flew away. Afterwards, as I pondered this encounter I felt a personal message was sent to me on how I needed to respond to my children. Christ, through a flying insect, sent me a message on how to be a better mother. What messages has he sent you lately?

Here is our chart of witnesses:

Persons VisitedScripture ReferenceDate or TimePlace of Appearance
Mary MagdaleneJohn 20:1-18Resurrection day, early morningAt the tomb of Jesus
Other womenMatthew 28:1-9Resurrection day, early morningSomewhere between the tomb and Jerusalem
Two disciplesMark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-32Resurrection day, afternoonOn the road to Emmaus
Simon PeterLuke 24:34; 1 Corinthian 15:5Some time on the resurrection dayNot specified
Ten of the TwelveLuke 24:36; John 20:19-24Resurrection day, eveningA room somewhere in Jerusalem, doors were shut
Eleven of the TwelveJohn 20:26-31;Mark 16:14Eight days after the resurrection Apparently the same room as above
Seven of the TwelveJohn 21:1-14Morning, at a time subsequent to the episode with ThomasOn the shore of the Sea of Tiberias (Galilee)
Eleven of the TwelveMatthew 28:16-20Not specifiedA mountain in Galilee, by previous appointment of Jesus
More than 500 brethren 1 Corinthians 15:6Not specifiedNot specified
James1 Corinthians 15:7Not specifiedNot specified
Eleven apostles at the AscensionMark 16:19; Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:3-11Forty day after resurrectionNear Bethany
Paul1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:8

JohnRevelation 1:9-18Between A.D. 81 and 96Isle of Patmos in Aegean Sea
The Nephites3 Nephi 11:1 to 18:39; 19:2, 15 to 26:15About A.D. 34, soon after AscensionLand  Bountiful in America, by temple
The Nephite Twelve3 Nephi 27:1 to 28:12After previous appearance to peopleNo specific information given
The Lot Tribes of Israel3 Nephi 16:1-4; 17:4No information, but soon after appearance to NephiteNot Specified
MoroniEther 12:39Not specifiedNot specified
Joseph SmithJoseph Smith 2:14-20Spring, 1820Acred Grove near Manchester, NY


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