Forty Days Later
“Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25)
How long ago does Easter feel? It was exactly 40 days ago, but in our fast-paced society, it can feel a lot longer. We move from one thing to another as soon as the first has ended—this is no more prevalent than the Black Friday sales that start Thanksgiving morning! Before Thanksgiving dinner is even served, we’re thinking about shopping the sales for Christmas gifts. We’ve already celebrated Mother’s Day and Memorial Day and now we look to Father’s Day and the 4th of July. So what about Easter?
“During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3)
Well, we learn from Luke (the author of Acts) that Jesus was on Earth for forty days before he ascended to Heaven, and according to the end of John’s gospel, the whole world could not contain the number of books that would be needed to record all of the things Jesus did during this time. Can you recall all that you have done over these last forty days since Easter? We have written 10 blog posts in the last forty days, the school year has ended and summer has started, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day have come and gone, and I have received life-changing medical news. (Nothing terrible, but eating and exercise habits need to change to reverse some bad numbers.) A lot can happen in forty days. Forty days ago, the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral was still in the news and we had just learned of the terror attacks in Sri Lanka.
We don’t know everything Jesus did during these forty days but we do know some things: In our Everything Changed blog post, we looked at an interaction Jesus had with Peter on a beach after the resurrection. Some of the disciples were fishing and Jesus was on the beach cooking breakfast for them. When Peter realized it was Jesus, he jumped out of the boat and swam to shore. What follows is the scripture and excerpt from that post.
“After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter replied, ‘you know I love you.’ ‘Then feed my lambs,’ Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter said, ‘you know I love you.’ ‘Then take care of my sheep,’ Jesus said. A third time he asked him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, ‘Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Then feed my sheep.’" (John 21:15-17)
“Remember what Peter had done the night Jesus was killed? He denied Jesus three times. Here, Jesus gives Peter three chances to declare his love for Him, redeeming each time Peter denied Him. The resurrection means redemption. Because Jesus paid the price for our sin and he rose from death, we have the opportunity for redemption through Him.”
Another thing we know Jesus did during this time was deliver the Great Commission.
“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
This is our charge as His followers: to go and make disciples, to baptize them, and to teach them all of Jesus’ commands. And then in Acts 1, we come to the end of the forty days, where we are now, and Jesus is about to ascend into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God and to intercede on our behalf.
“So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?’
He replied, ‘The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him.” (Acts 1:6-9)
So here we are, forty days after Easter, a good time to reflect on how we are following Jesus’ final commands. Are we telling people about Him everywhere? Are we going as Jesus commanded us to go? Are we making disciples? Easter is not just a holiday we celebrate and move on from; it is the most significant event in history. Our Lord has given us a mission, and it’s important to evaluate our obedience to that mission. Let us move forward, obeying Jesus’ commands, telling everyone about Him, making disciples, and remembering that Jesus is with us, to the very end of the age! For the next forty days, try to really focus on living on mission, obeying Jesus’ final commands. What could God do through you in the next forty days?
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.