Read Acts 1:1-3, I Corinthians 15:1-11
Who doesn’t love a good sequel? Almost every really popular Disney movie has a sequel, along with many other types of films, likewise, so do many great books. Fans of these stories all want to find out what happens next with their favorite characters, especially when the first episode ended in a cliffhanger! You know it is a great story when you rush out to buy the next book in the series, or you are chomping at the bit waiting for the new movie to be released!
Easter Sunday may have seemed like the end of a great story, in a way, but to be clear, the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is not a story; it is the authentic historical account of the most extraordinary “man” who ever lived and the most amazing event in all of history, and the resurrection is definitely NOT the end of the story. In fact, the resurrection was actually the beginning of the next episode of God’s plan. The resurrection not only showcased the power of God conquering death and the grave, but it ushered in a new way of life for all of the disciples and all of those who would come after them.
After Jesus appeared to the disciples the first time, the writer Luke tells us that he continued to meet with them on different occasions for the next 40 days: To the same apostles also, after his suffering, he presented himself alive with many convincing proofs. He was seen by them over a forty-day period and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
While the Bible doesn’t fully describe every meeting Jesus has with them during the time before his ascension, we can definitely put the pieces together for a picture of what God was doing during those 40 days after the resurrection. Here are a couple of things we can be sure about:
- He was strengthening their faith. Think about it. Every time Jesus appears to the disciples post resurrection solidifies the miracle of the resurrection again. If He had only appeared once, it would have been easier for the Jewish leaders to stop the message and just write off the disciples testimony by suggesting they were just “hallucinating”. This idea that the disciples were all hallucinating is one of the theories skeptics try to use to explain away the resurrection. (Read more here.) The concept that the disciples were ALL hallucinating and just “thought” they saw Jesus on numerous occasions is simply an implausible theory! Remember also that over 500 people saw Jesus after His resurrection, which makes this hypothesis even more preposterous. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8) Beyond all of this, the disciples’ changed behavior (from depressed and afraid to excited and bold) does not coincide with being emotionally unstable and prone to hallucination. Each appearance of Jesus fortified and built their confidence so that after being put in jail for preaching the gospel, they could boldly say, “it is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)
- He was Modeling the Life they were to live. Each time Jesus appears in the scriptures during these 40 days, He gives the disciples another picture of how they should live. Although He had spent three years instructing them on how to live before His crucifixion and resurrection, just imagine how much more impactful His lessons were after the resurrection. Now, there were no doubts anymore, no questions on who this “man” was. They were confident that they were talking to the incarnation of God, and this made everything He said or did during this time of monumental importance. We can be sure that everything He said or did during this time was done in preparation for the launch of His plan for reaching the world! Once He left, they would need to carry on and take this message of redemption to the ends of the earth. But to get this message to the whole world, He knew it couldn’t be a lone ranger operation, it would need to be a coordinated, unified effort fueled by the power of God and a community of supporters.
So, although we don’t know everything about what He said and did during this time, one thing we can be sure of is that He was fortifying His troops and getting them ready to march into the battle of their life, and He knew they would need each other. His time with them during this 40 days would help shape them for the next episode, the sequel – the birth of the church!
If you think about it, there is no better time than the present to learn more about the only institution ordained by God to impact the world! For the next several weeks, join me in a new Bible study/devotion: It’s a New Day- Why our world needs the Church more than ever before.
Each week we will look at passages from the gospels, Acts and other books in the New Testament to discover, or rediscover a Passion for the Church!
Go to the Bible study tab for more information about the weekly Bible study or grab your Bible and a journal and follow the blog.
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