About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 Then he heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” 15 The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven.17 Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared.
–the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 10
Late Saturday night after Jesus’ crucifixion, while in deep emotional despair; agonizing over the sudden, unexpected death of his Master; ashamed and devastated by his cowardice in denying Jesus three times; exhausted from not sleeping the last three nights, not eating, and maybe after embibing too much wine to drown his sorrows— Simon Peter falls into another one of his “trances”; a bizarre experience which leaves Peter wondering what it means, and maybe too, whether or not his experience was real or a figment of his imagination.
In this “experience”, Jesus appears to Peter; tells Peter than he is forgiven for denying him, and tells him that he will be the rock upon which Christ will build his Church. Peter asks Jesus if he is having a dream or if Jesus is real. Jesus responds that he is very real, “Just reach out and touch me, Peter”. Peter does so and takes hold of Jesus’ hand. Jesus tells Peter that God has raised him from the dead! Jesus tells Peter that within a very, very short period of time, he will come to establish the New Kingdom, placing Peter and the other ten on thrones of gold next to him. But…in order for all this to come to pass, they must follow him without fear, preaching the Gospel to anyone who will listen.
Peter is ecstatic!!!
The Kingdom WILL come! The Romans WILL be defeated. Jesus will rule the world from Jerusalem! The misery and suffering of the Jewish people will soon end!!!
Peter tells the other disciples. The small group is gripped by joyful hysteria! Sunday morning, they travel to Jesus tomb and find it empty. “He is risen!” (But that is not the reason the tomb is empty: the Sanhedrin had only buried Jesus in that particular tomb because of its proximity to Golgotha; using it in an emergency to get Jesus’ dead body into the ground before sunset and the beginning of the Sabbath). Saturday evening, after the Sabbath had ended, they moved the body to an unmarked pauper’s grave—without telling Jesus’ family or his disciples.
The empty tomb confirmed (in the minds of the disciples) that Peter was telling the truth! God has raised Jesus from the dead! The once timid, fearful disciples now become proud evangelists, fearing nothing. (“Jesus is coming very, very soon. We are going to rule the world as princes! So why worry?”)
Soon other disciples are having “trances”, visions, illusions, and false sightings of Jesus.
Years later (we don’t know how many years, even though evangelicals think they know), someone formulates a “Creed”; a list of alleged eyewitnesses to the original appearances of Jesus. This author really, really wants people to believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. So he spices up the story. He embellishes some of the details. Why not, if it brings sinners to Christ???
And this new “creed” repeatedly uses the word “ophthe” (to literally see with the eyes) for every alleged appearance of Jesus, even though this was not necessarily what the original claimants had said.
“Who will ever know??”
“Let God be true and every man a liar!”
End of post.