Updated: Apr 13
To whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3
After he rose from the dead, Jesus appeared to his followers for 40 days before ascending to his throne. According to Luke, he presented them with “many infallible proofs” that he was alive during this time. The term’ infallible proofs” comes from a Greek word meaning “to show or prove by sure signs.” The phrase is used only in Acts 1:3 and only in reference to Christ’s resurrection. The physical evidence of his resurrection is, without a doubt, the foundation of the Christian faith. Just as they witnessed his death, Jesus wanted his followers to witness his resurrection.
As we celebrate what is known as Eastertide, the fifty days between Jesus’ resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, we often overlook the events that occurred before Jesus returned to Heaven. Jesus appeared on earth to actively demonstrate his power over death and verify his claims to be the Son of God. As proof of his resurrection, among other things, Jesus appears to Mary at the tomb (John 29:14-16), “opened the Scriptures” to the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35 ), appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34), dined with the disciples at the sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-2), and appeared to over 500 of his followers at one time (1 Cor. 15:6 ).
Thomas is absent on Jesus’ first post-resurrection appearance to the apostles as a group. When he hears that Jesus is alive, he replies, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Instead of rebuking Thomas, Jesus indulges his request, appearing eight days later and allowing him to touch the place of his scars. By this act, Jesus removes Thomas' doubt while encouraging others to have faith that does not require validation. Thomas was not rejecting the truth; he needed convincing. Much like Mary when she asked, “How can these things be?” After touching his scars, Thomas recognizes Jesus as “Lord and God” (John 20:28), the Messiah who was "wounded for our transgressions" (Isaiah 53). Thomas' doubt led him to convincing proof that Jesus was alive.
Amazingly, the resurrected Christ still bore the scars of his humanity, a powerful reminder of his identification with us and his ability to serve as our “sympathetic high priest (Heb. 4:14-16). The forty days between the resurrection and the ascension was an important time for the disciples and those who would later become followers of Christ. It is also instructive for us. Our faith in Christ is not groundless. It is based on undeniable evidence that Jesus died on the Cross and arose from the dead. His resurrection proved that he was the Son of God (Rom 1:4) and the Savior of the world.
Once the disciples were convinced that Jesus was alive, they were commissioned to spread that message to the world. The apostles based their testimony on their personal encounters with Christ after the resurrection (cf 2 Pet. 1:16; 1 John 1:2). However, they were told to wait for “power from on high” before they began witnessing (Acts 1:8). They could not trust their own experiences but needed to rely on the Holy Spirit’s power to energize and validate their witness. As believers, we, too, have been called to share the glorious message of Christ’s victory on the Cross. The story does not end with the resurrection. Jesus continues to give “infallible proof” that He is alive and living in the hearts of those who trust in Him.