The appearance stories are also a reminder that the Risen Christ is identifiable with Jesus of Nazareth; the Christ of faith is identifiable with the Jesus of history. The idea that Jesus of Nazareth died and a new person was created is a misunderstanding of the miracle of the Resurrection. Jesus who is risen from the tomb knows what the disciples need because he knew them. And they know him now because they knew him during his public ministry. Mary recognizes his voice because she had heard it before. The appearances beautifully link Jesus of Nazareth with the Risen Christ.
Stanley Marrow, S.J., a New Testament scholar, has a marvelous summation of this idea in his commentary The Gospel of John:
The risen Lord had to be recognizably and identifiably the Jesus of Nazareth, the man whom the disciples knew and followed, whom they saw and heard, with whom they ate and because of whom they now cowered behind closed doors for “fear of the Jews.” For him to have risen as any other than the Jesus of Nazareth that they knew would void the resurrection of all its meaning. The one they had confessed as their risen Lord is the same Jesus of Nazareth that they had known and followed. Showing them “his hands and his side,” which bore the marks of the crucifixion and the pierce by the lance, was not a theatrical gesture, but the necessary credentials of the identity of the risen Lord, who stood before them, with the crucified Jesus of Nazareth whom they knew.
The Risen One carries within himself the experiences of his humanity. Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine.
Thanks for traveling with us on our pilgrimage. We’ve carried your prayers with us, and we’ve also felt your prayers. Of course pilgrimage is a life-long process, but we hope during this time, you’ve come a little closer to Jesus, as we have, too. God bless.