The honesty and humility we see in the post-resurrection accounts is evidence of the credibility of the New Testament. John Witte Jr. add this insight in his article A Manifold Resurrection:
What is even more striking is how his followers consistently fail to recognize him, and, more importantly, the variety of ways in which God makes it possible for them to apprehend him.HT: Christianity Today
Mary Magdalene, weeping outside the empty tomb, has to be called by name before she recognizes Christ. Before that, she thought he was a gardener.
Ten disciples, gathered in a room in sorrow and fear, need Christ to breathe his peace on them before they recognize him. Before that, they thought he was a ghost.
Two travelers from Emmaus walked with Christ and talked with him about salvation history all the way to their city, but recognized him only when he held up some bread and blessed it. Before that, they thought he was simply a learned traveler.
Thomas, the great doubter, wanted to put his fingers in the nail holes of the Cross and his hand in the pierced side of Christ before accepting him. Prior to that, he thought Christ was a fraud.
And Peter, that enigmatic rock of the church, recognized Christ only after he performed the miracle of filling Peter's nets with fish. Then Peter had to sit through a threefold cross-examination as to whether he really believed in the resurrected Lord whom he had just denied: "Simon Barjona, do you love me?" "Do you love me?" "Do you love me?"
In these Gospel accounts, we see five ways in which Christ is experienced and understood after the Resurrection: A calling by name. A delivery of peace. A sacramental vision. A physical encounter. A miracle and conversation with God. I see both a budding psychology and a budding ecclesiology at work in these passages.
The Gospels record these stories and encounters of the newly resurrected Christ, in part, for our spiritual comfort.
There is a little bit of Mary Magdalene in all of us: times when we swoon with pain and grief and need God's call to comfort us. There is a little bit of the Emmaus travelers in all of us: times when we talk idly about divine matters but see God only in the sublime simplicity of the sacrament. There is a little bit of the huddled disciples in all of us: times when our faith puts us in jeopardy and fear, and we need God's peace to be breathed on us. There is a little bit of Thomas in all of us: times that we are so overcome by doubt and skepticism that we need God's touch to assure and anchor us. And there is a little bit of Peter in all of us: times when we deny and betray our Lord and need a miracle to remind us of God's majesty or a divine conversation to move us to confess our faith unflinchingly.