The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them
in the breaking of bread.
While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.
He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”
In law, there’s an important concept critical to the determination of truth.
The concept is “percipient witness”. According to Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary, a percipient witness is “A witness who testifies about things she or he actually perceived. For example, an eyewitness.”
Today, the universal Church celebrates and remembers a particular event recounted in Luke 24, of an encounter that two of Jesus’ disciples had with the resurrected Christ in His glorified body.
In Jesus’ time when there were no technological devices to record empirical phenomena and events, percipient witnesses were particularly important in providing testimonials about truths.
Do you doubt the percipient witnesses of the person, teachings and acts of Jesus the Christ?
The Apostles and disciples, who were percipient witnesses of Jesus the Christ, were willing to die for they had seen and heard. This is how they were martyred, testifying to the truth they’d witnessed until their last breath:
- St. Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity, was stoned to death in Jerusalem, c. AD 34.
- St. James, son of Zebedee and brother of St. John the Apostle, was the first Apostle to be martyred. King Herod had St. James beheaded in 44 AD.
- St. James, son of Alpheus, was reported by the Jewish historian Josephus to have been stoned and then clubbed to death in 62 AD.
- St. Jude Thaddaeus was crucified in Syria, c. 65 AD.
- St. Simon the Zealot ministered in Persia and was sawn in half, c. 65 AD after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.
- St. Peter and St. Paul were both martyred in Rome about 66 AD, during the persecution under Emperor Nero. St. Paul was beheaded. St. Peter was crucified, upside down at his request, because he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
- St. Mark, a rope around his neck, was dragged to death in Alexandria, Egypt, in AD 68.
- St. Thomas was pierced to death in India, 72 AD, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder.
- St. Matthias, who was chosen to replace Judas, was burned to death in Syria, c. 80 AD.
- St. Bartholomew (identified as Nathaniel in the Gospel of John) is believed to have been skinned alive and crucified. He ministered in India with St. Thomas, in Armenia, Ethiopia and Southern Arabia.
- St. Philip was crucified in Hierapolis, Asia Minor, 80 AD, for converting the wife of a Roman proconsul. He also ministered in North Africa.
- St. Andrew was crucified in Patras, Greece. He also preached in Asia Minor and modern-day Turkey. Christians in the former Soviet Union say he was the first to bring the Gospel to their land.
- St. Matthew was beheaded in Ethiopia. He had also ministered in Persia.
- St. John was the only Apostle who died a natural death from old age, after surviving an ordeal of being thrown into boiling oil. He was the leader of the church in Ephesus and is said to have taken care of Mary the mother of Jesus in his home. In mid-90s AD, he was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he wrote the last book of the New Testament–the Revelation.
Would you willingly be tortured and killed for a lie?
May the love and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you, and remember to tell Him that you love Him with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with every ounce of your strength.
Thank you Dr.E for this important post, especially for setting forth the nature of the martyrdom of the apostles. The apostles also were allowed to see Jesus ascend to heaven, which solidified Jesus’ human and divine status for them. And as St. John told us, there were many other experiences they had with Jesus after the resurrection that is not written down. So surely, these percipient witnesses loved Jesus and gave up their lives for Him.
What a wonderful reminder of all those who have left their personal testimonies of the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the World. It is inconceivable that any of these men would have allowed themselves to be murdered, in most cases in horrific ways, to perpetuate something that was not true. Thank you Dr E for this special reminder, that we can look on the fact that each of these valiant men sealed their testimonies with their own blood.