The resurrection of Jesus Christ, along with his crucifixion on the cross, is the climactic moment of all four Gospels in the New Testament. In each Gospel, the resurrection occurs near the end of the book, which can leave readers wondering what happened next in the story of Jesus and his followers.
After Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to his most faithful disciples and those who were skeptical about the resurrection. He also taught people from Scripture, went on walks, ate fish, spoke to groups of people, and had one-on-one conversations before ascending to heaven.
What does the Bible say about what Jesus did after he rose from the dead? Why is that short-time period so important to understanding him? What does a timeline of post-resurrection events reveal? How many people did Jesus appear to after he rose? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also, see Why Did Jesus Come to Earth? to learn more.
Between Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension
Where does the Bible mention what Jesus did after his resurrection? The last chapters of each of the Gospels, the first chapter of the book of Acts, and some references in Paul’s letters provide information about what Jesus did after his resurrection and before his ascension.
All the stories about Jesus’ post-resurrection life have theological significance. Even the details that seem unimportant in the passages, which some readers may only quickly skim, are important.
The Importance of What Happened After the Resurrection
First, Jesus’ appearances to other people are important confirmations of his resurrection. He didn’t just appear to his most devout followers. Instead, Jesus appeared to the faithful, like Mary Magdalene, and the faithless, like Thomas. He appeared to a single person in one scene, two in another, and even hundreds of people at one time.
Second, stories that mention his body after the resurrection helps to establish that he physically rose from the dead. For example, Jesus physically walked on a road and physically ate fish. These details aren’t necessarily the point of the stories they are in, yet they are important to understanding Jesus’ nature.
From Jesus’ Resurrection to Ascension: A Timeline
The Gospels don’t mention every day between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. Instead, they pick and choose stories to tell. Some of the stories overlap, yet others are unique.
|Jesus appears to Cleopas and his companion||Luke 24:13-35; Mark 16:12|
|Jesus appears to his disciples (without Thomas)||Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-29; Mark 16:14|
|Jesus appears to his disciples (with Thomas)||John 20:19-29|
|Jesus enables a miraculous catch of fish||John 21:1-23|
|Jesus restores Peter||John 21:15-19|
|Jesus gives the Great Commission||Matt. 28:16-20|
|Jesus gives a Bible study||Luke 24:44-49|
|Jesus ascends to heaven||Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:3-11|
Why didn’t the Gospels include every story? The Gospels focus on the stories that have theological importance for believers in all eras. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit decided the content of all the books of the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16-17). If the Gospels included every story about Jesus, “the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25, ESV).
The stories that made it into the Gospels, including those between his resurrection and ascension, “are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31, ESV). The aim of the stories included is to produce faith.
The point of Jesus’ appearance isn’t like a magician who disappears and then shows himself at the end of an act. Instead, all that Jesus did had the intention of generating faith in people by revealing who he was and why he came to earth (cf. Luke 19:10; 1 Tim. 1:15).
Theologian Robert Reymond writes, “It is not an overstatement to say that Jesus’ pre-ascension ministry is replete with testimony to the effect that he is properly to be regarded as God, the Yahweh of the Old Testament, the divine Son of God, the Lord of the universe, and the promised Messiah.” 
Also, see Where Was Joseph When Jesus Died? to learn more.
Jesus Appeared to Over 500 People
Author Hank Hanegraaff writes, “Peter, Paul, and the rest of the apostles claimed that Christ appeared to hundreds of people who were still alive and available for cross-examination… It would have been one thing to attribute these supernatural experiences to people who had already died. It was quite another to attribute them to multitudes who were still alive.” 
|To Mary Magdalene||Jn. 20:14-18; Mk. 16:9|
|To the women returning from the tomb||Mt. 28:8-10|
|To Peter later in the day||Lk. 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5|
|To the disciples going to Emmaus in the evening||Lk. 24:13-31|
|To the apostles (except Thomas)||Lk. 24:36-45; Jn. 20-19-24|
|To the apostles a week later (Thomas present)||Jn. 20:24-29|
|In Galilee to the seven by the Lake of Tiberias||Jn. 21:1-23|
|In Galilee on a mountain to the apostles and 500 believers||1 Cor. 15:6|
|At Jerusalem and Bethany again to James||1 Cor. 15:7|
|At Olivet and the ascension||Acts 1:3-12|
|To Paul near Damascus||Acts 9:3-6; 1 Cor. 15:8|
|To Stephen outside Jerusalem||Acts 7:55|
|To Paul in the temple||Acts 22:17-21; 23:11|
|To John on Patmos||Rev. 1:10-19|
Also, see Why Did Jesus Descend Into Hell? to learn more.
Jesus Ascended To Heaven
Luke records Jesus’ last words in the first chapter of Acts. When the disciples ask him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (1:6), Jesus’ answer anticipated the arrival of the Holy Spirit.
He said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (1:7-8, ESV).
Also, see What Was Jesus’ Favorite Color? to learn more.
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