It is asserted that the disciples saw certain visionary appearances after the crucifixion, and that they thought they saw Jesus alive. Under stress and strain of terrible excitement, they imagined they had a vision of their lost Leader again alive. The statement has been made in this connection that they saw what they wanted to see, as people overwrought often seem to do.
The answer to such a statement is of the simplest. There need be no argument. They had no expectation of seeing Him again. No thought was further from their minds than that of His resurrection. As to the hypothesis of visionary appearances, it might have been considered if but one or two had testified. No less than ten distinct appearances are recorded, and these not only to individuals, but to companies and crowds. First to the women. Then to Peter. Then to two men walking to Emmaus. Then to ten apostles, and subsequently to eleven. Yet later to seven men approaching the seashore. Yet again to the whole number of the apostles, and afterwards to five hundred at once. Then to James, and finally to the little group gathered round Him when He ascended
Is it conceivable that all these were deceived by visionary appearances, and were so deceived that whatever else their faults and failure in the coming years, there is absolutely no record of any one of them questioning the historic fact of the resurrection? Of course it may now be said that this is all upon the authority of the New Testament. That is at once admitted. The authenticity of the Gospel narratives is not now under discussion, but is taken for granted.
And therefore there may be added to the proofs already cited the wonderful history of Saul of Tarsus, who declared through over thirty years of consistent Christian life and testimony that the miraculous change in his attitude towards Christ and in his whole character was brought about by an actual vision of Jesus of Nazareth, risen and glorified. It has been said that the true account of what happened to Saul of Tarsus was that he had an epileptic seizure in a thunderstorm. So silly is such a statement that the only answer possible to it is a suggestion that if it be indeed true, then men ought always to pray for a multiplication of thunderstorms and an epidemic of epilepsy.
Adapted from The Crises of the Christ, Book VI, Chapter XXVII, by G. Campbell Morgan.