Did you ever wonder about what Jesus and his disciples did, what they talked about, for those 40 days between the Resurrection and the Ascension? (Did you realize that there were 40 days that Jesus walked around on the earth in that resurrected body of his?)
I think the tendency for many of us, thanks to movies, or the creeds, or maybe the way some of the Gospels are written, is to assume and envision that Jesus rose from the dead early on Easter Sunday, showed his hands and his feet, then led the guys out to the mountain, gave them the “Great Commission,” and then ascended to heaven. But Luke tells us something different (Acts 1:1-9):
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
No wonder those first apostles and believers could be Jesus’ witnesses. THEY HUNG OUT WITH HIM FOR 40 DAYS!! And what did they do?? And what did they talk about?? Love? World peace? The church? Faith? Nope. Jesus talked with them about the KINGDOM OF GOD. From Jesus’s first proclamation through the parables and miracles and up to the last things he shared with his followers, Jesus Christ was all about the Kingdom.
In the calendar of the church year, we call these 40 days “Eastertide,” which means “Easter season.” We commemorate and celebrate those amazing days when the risen Jesus walked among us. But we also begin looking forward to mission, to empowerment… to Pentecost! As Luke shared with us, in his teachings on the Kingdom during those days, Jesus told his followers to WAIT for the empowering baptism in the Holy Spirit that was coming “in a few days.” Today (April 24th) marks 7 days until the Ascension, and 17 days until Pentecost when The Father and the Son poured out the awesome Holy Spirit on the church!!
My challenge to you and to me and to all the Church is this:
- Meditate on what it would be like to hang around with the risen Jesus in the flesh for 40 days… and for only one more week!
- Celebrate and meditate on the Ascension on May 1st; re-read the scriptures, live with that moment, how awesome it would have been to be standing there when it happened!
- Prepare… wait… meditate… and seek God for a fresh outpouring of Pentecost in your life, your family, the church, and the world! “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call!” (Acts 2:39).
Alleluia! The Lord is risen indeed! Come– let us adore Him!! Alleluia!!