How many times did Jesus appear to his disciples after the resurrection?

Resurrection accounts in the four canonical gospels vary widely. According to Matthew and Mark, Jesus appears first to Mary Magdalene and the other women who went to the tomb to anoint his body; according to John, the first appearance is to Mary Magdalene alone; according to Luke, the first to see him are two disciples making their way to Emmaus. The gospels are theological narratives, not journalistic accounts. They present the theological truth of the resurrection – that Jesus really rose from the dead – but they do not necessarily describe the details in the same way. From a modern, factual point of view we don’t actually know how many times Jesus appeared. We only know that he did. From the resurrection stories in the gospels, we learn that he spent enough time with his disciples to fulfill his mission before he ascended to the Father. But the gospels cannot tell us everything. The last verse of the gospel of John reminds us that “There are still many other things that Jesus did, yet if they were written about in detail, I doubt there would be room enough in the entire world to hold the books to record them” (John 21:25).

Neela Kale

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.