Why didn't Jesus say, "Game Over" after his resurrection?

Among the five-hundred who witnessed Jesus after his resurrection, it is notable that Pilate and the Sanhedrin were apparently absent (1 Cor 15). You might expect Jesus to have gone straight from the tomb to the palace, yelling, "Game Over! Who was right, after all?" By withholding his glorious appearance from them, it seems that Jesus created room for thousands of years of tension between unbelief and faith, years filled with suffering. Why does he let the game go on, so to speak? 

The question of God's purpose in human suffering tends to arise from personal pain, as much or more than from intellectual or biblical difficulties. Having orthodox answers doesn't always prevent us from wrestling with unresolved feelings about the goodness of God's plan. The so-called "problem of pain" make us groan deeply, "why does God allow his people to suffer?" All the more when that pain settles on someone we love dearly.

As you read the Gospels, you will notice Christ purposely limited whom he revealed himself to after his resurrection. I believe Jesus' decision to veil his resurrection from the authorities was very much intended to foster a certain tension, as well as to serve as a form of judgment. "To everyone who has [faith] will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away" (Mt 25:29). Compare Jesus' motive for speaking in parables:

"Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given." (Matt 13:10-11)

Those who believed, Jesus took aside and gave further explanation. Those whom God determined to leave to their own wickedness were excluded from fuller interpretations of the Kingdom message. It is God's right to withhold revelation, including the presence of the risen Son.

Another passage worth considering in connection with Jesus' choice not to appear before the Pharisees is his warning about the Sign of Jonah:

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here” (Mt 12:39-42)

For this warning to hold true, the Jews would have to have been generally persuaded of the truthfulness of Christ's resurrection. Nineveh could not condemn Jerusalem for rejecting the Sign (the resurrection) unless they had in fact been aware of it. Just as all million-plus Ninevites did not see the whale spit up Jonah, but were nonetheless aware of the prophet's ordeal, so it was not essential for every Jewish leader to have witnessed Christ's resurrection firsthand to be accountable for rejecting it. They had plenty of credible testimony from others, beside the Spirit bearing witness in their hearts of its truthfulness. 

Based on Mt 12:38-42, and Paul's testimony in Acts 26:26 ("these things did not happen in a corner”), it is apparent that many leaders did indeed know of the resurrection, even if direct experience of the glorified Christ was a privilege reserved for those who had trusted him before the crucifixion.

To conclude, Christ's self-veiling after the resurrection was part of God’s judgment against the religious and political leaders. He gave enough proof to make them culpable, but also "enough rope to hang themselves" with stubborn denial. Not seeing Christ firsthand, they could persist, even against their consciences, in persecuting God’s people for selfish gain.

It also set up the tension between faith and unbelief that persists until the second coming. As you endure this time of testing, recall Jesus words to his disciples, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (Jn 20:29).

I hope to address the question of suffering more later. For now, God bless you and keep you.