Skip to comments.The Few Witnesses to the Resurrection
Posted on 03/31/2013 4:58:23 PM PDT by NYer
It might have been expected, that, on our Saviour’s rising again from the dead, He would have shown Himself to very great numbers of people, and especially to those who crucified Him; whereas we know from the history, that, far from this being the case, He showed Himself only to chosen witnesses, chiefly His immediate followers; and St. Peter avows this in the text.
This seems at first sight strange. We are apt to fancy the resurrection of Christ as some striking visible display of His glory, such as God vouchsafed from time to time to the Israelites in Moses’ day; and considering it in the light of a public triumph, we are led to imagine the confusion and terror which would have overwhelmed His murderers, had He presented Himself alive before them.
Now, thus to reason, is to conceive Christ’s kingdom of this world, which it is not. . . .This is the question, “Why did not our Saviour show Himself after His resurrection to all the people? why only to witnesses chosen before of God?” and this is my answer: “Because this was the most effectual means of propagating His religion through the world.”
. . .Now consider what would have been the probable effect of a public exhibition of His resurrection. Let us suppose that our Saviour had shown Himself as openly as before He suffered; preaching in the Temple and in the streets of the city; traversing the land with His Apostles, and with multitudes following to see the miracles which He did. What would have been the effect of this?
What could they have said and felt more than this, when “one rose from the dead”? In truth, this is the way of the mass of mankind in all ages, to be influenced by sudden fears, sudden contrition, sudden earnestness, sudden resolves, which disappear as suddenly. Nothing is done effectually through untrained human nature; and such is ever the condition of the multitude. Unstable as water, it cannot excel. One day it cried Hosanna; the next, Crucify Him. . . .Had our Lord appeared in public, yet few could have touched Him, and certified themselves it was He Himself. . . .It would have been open to the greater number of them still to deny that He was risen. . . .
It would seem, then, that our Lord gave His attention to a few, because, if the few be gained, the many will follow. To these few He showed Himself again and again. These He restored, comforted, warned, inspired. He formed them unto Himself, that they might show forth His praise. . . .
Doubtless, much may be undone by the many, but nothing is done except by those who are specially trained for action. . . . If the witnesses were to be such as really loved and obeyed the Truth, there could not be many chosen. Christ’s cause was the cause of light and religion, therefore His advocates and ministers were necessarily few. . . .
The Morning of the Resurrection by Edward Burne-Jones, c. 1882
Now, let us observe how much matter, both for warning and comfort, is supplied by this view. We learn from the picture of the infant Church what that Church has been ever since, that is, as far as man can understand it. Many are called, few are chosen. . . .
But, besides this, we are comforted too; we are comforted, as many of us as are living humbly in the fear of God. Who those secret ones are, who in the bosom of the visible Church live as saints fulfilling their calling, God only knows.
. . .Let all “who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity” be quite sure, that weak though they seem, and solitary, yet the “foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” The many are “deceitful,” and the worldly-wise are “vain;” but he “that feareth the Lord, the same shall be praised.” The most excellent gifts of the intellect last but for a season. Eloquence and wit, shrewdness and dexterity, these plead a cause well and propagate it quickly, but it dies with them. It has no root in the hearts of men, and lives not out a generation. It is the consolation of the despised Truth, that its works endure.
The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church. “Fret not thyself” then “because of evil doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good … delight thyself also in Him, and He shall give thee the desires of thy heart; commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. . . .”
The heathen world made much ado when the Apostles preached the Resurrection. They and their associates were sent out as lambs among wolves; but they prevailed.
We, too, though we are not witnesses of Christ’s actual resurrection, are so spiritually. By a heart awake from the dead, and by affections set on heaven, we can as truly and without figure witness that Christ liveth, as they did. . . .He who obeys God conscientiously, and lives holily, forces all about him to believe and tremble before the unseen power of Christ.
To the world indeed at large he witnesses not; for few can see him near enough to be moved by his manner of living. But to his neighbours he manifests the Truth in proportion to their knowledge of him; and some of them, through God’s blessing, catch the holy flame, cherish it, and in their turn transmit it. And thus in a dark world Truth still makes way in spite of the darkness, passing from hand to hand.
I thought over 500 people saw the risen Christ?
That’s what the Bible says.
This guy needs to read his Bible a little more...
1Cr 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
1Cr 15:4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
1Cr 15:5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
1Cr 15:6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;
1Cr 15:7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;
1Cr 15:8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication.
Good grief, man — the point of the Cardinal’s article isn’t the five hundred people he revealed himself to, but the thousands and thousands of people he didn’t. The point is that he chose to spend that precious time pereparing his followers for the task they would be facing. He didn’t bust lose from the tomb and immediately start strutting around the agora and Calvary Hill like some historic WWE wrestler shooting up from the mat at the height of the two count.
Sir, anyone who can link the Resurrection, Cardinal Newman and the WWE - cogently - in a single post is a GENIUS in my book!
I read it again and your point seems correct.
People complain that God doesn’t show himself to everybody, then it would be easy to believe. The problem is during the Exodus, God showed his miracles time and time again and still people fell away. He did the same when they crossed the Jordan, caused the walls of Jericho to fall and still, they fell away.
We have faith, that is enough and to paraphrase Paul, if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then we Christians are most miserable. 1-Cor 15:19
I do like Arron’s explanation for the golden calf. I put the gold in the furnace and the calf popped out. Ex 32:24. Sounds like a lie a ten year old would say.
When a guy who is elevated to such a high position gets his facts so wrong on such a simple topic, I don’t care what he has to say.
Ummmm...again, how does what you posted contradict my statement? How does the fact that He revealed Himself to 500 of his followers change the fact that He didn’t reveal Himself to the hundreds of thousands who witnessed His passion?
Where is the Cardinal wrong?
I liked it too, vladimir - particularly the ‘bust lose from the tomb’ phrasology. Keep on keeping on, Hoosier! And Happy Easter to you both!
I aim to please. Happy Easter to you as well!
“It might have been expected, that, on our Saviours rising again from the dead, He would have shown Himself to very great numbers of people, and especially to those who crucified Him; whereas we know from the history, that, far from this being the case, He showed Himself only to chosen witnesses, chiefly His immediate followers; and St. Peter avows this in the text.”
When Paul says that he showed himself to over 500 hundred, I believe it is clear that Jesus showed himself to a large number of people, not his immediate followers. The writer’s assertion clearly implies that Jesus showed himself to very few people. Paul clearly states that he showed himself to many people. He didn’t even bother telling who they were and said many remained alive, even to that day.
Alright, you win. It was 500. So what? I am still at pains to understand why this distinction matters to you in the context of the article. What does Paul call these 500? 500 Jews? 500 Romans? No - 500 Fratribus, Adelphois. Brothers. People who knew Him well and loved Him. What does Newman say? “He showed Himself only to chosen witnesses, chiefly His immediate followers...” Apparently that means 500 people. Congrats.
I will re-post the Cardinal’s follow-up question, which it would appear you didn’t get to (having gotten yourself tied into knots over the difference-less distinction of the exact number of the witnesses):
Why did not our Saviour show Himself after His resurrection to all the people? why only to witnesses chosen before of God?
That is the key question of the article, which Cardinal Newman then offers his perspective on. Read it. Agree with it, disagree with it, I could care less. At least, however, consider IT, and not some idiotic polemic.