Too Good to Miss! Seven Weeks After Easter
Why is it so easy to go-all-out for Easter in many churches, then take a deep breath, relax, and maybe even go on vacation after Easter, when our Lord did ministry another 40 days following His resurrection?
Without dispute Easter is the towering event on the annual Christian calendar. Celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus is worthy of a massive buildup and a triumphant service on Easter Sunday — resurrection morning. While we give the grand occasion our all, we should humbly also remember the day is bigger than any celebration we can plan for it.
Please think about it: did our Lord make a mistake staying with us another forty days? Does that thought explain why this short time span often gets so little attention? Should He have gone back to His Father on resurrection morning, or at most, perhaps a week later? The attention often given to the next seven weeks — does it imply Jesus must have stayed with us too long; longer than necessary?
Should those fifty days slip like dry sand through our fingers, and sail away from us like ships silently passing in the night?
Ah! brothers and sisters in the Hugh’s News family. Set your heart to discover again the magnificent 40 days plus10!
Jesus Christ lived with a clear-cut agenda in His incarnation; everything He did focused on Calvary. He totally committed Himself in His humiliation to the work of our redemption.
In the interval between His resurrection and ascension, the glorified Savior had specific objectives to achieve with His disciples. His overriding agenda was to help them look back and begin to comprehend the meaning of His spectacular triumph at Calvary and how it impacted their future.
Six short weeks plus one, from Passover to Pentecost. To God they were very important, so very, very important.
It goes without saying those fifty days should highly motivate us too!
The Themes of the Forty Days
The term Pentecost means “fifty,” so the time span between Passover and the feast of Pentecost is fifty days. Jesus went to heaven on the fortieth day, and one hundred twenty followers tarried in the Upper Room for the next ten days before Pentecost.
Jesus’ curriculum in the forty days included six elements:
- Giving the disciples infallible proof of His resurrection.
- Teaching them to interpret the Old Testament Scriptures through the lens of His cross and resurrection, thus laying the ground work for them to write the New Testament.
- Restoring the Apostle Peter, and giving hope to everyone in every generation who messes up his life.
- Opening to them – and us – the Great Commission.
- Preparing them for the advent of the Holy Spirit, who would birth Jesus’ church and empower the Lord’s worldwide strategy.
- Thoroughly instilling in them how they were to serve His agenda at home and abroad by winning people and planting them in churches.
The heavenly Father’s timeline gave Jesus only six short weeks of actual teaching time with His eleven disciples after He left His tomb empty and utterly humiliated. During these few days, the Lord’s overarching strategy, said another way, was to help the apostles begin to comprehend and apply His Father’s international agenda.
Jesus worked at it with the same implicit trust and passion that characterized His ministry before His crucifixion. He wanted His apostles to discover the next two big events after His resurrection: His ascension and Pentecost. The message the angels gave to the crowd on Mt. Olivet, as they starred into the sky at Jesus’ ascension was, “Why are you standing here gazing; Jesus is coming back as you saw Him leave, so go do what He said!” (see Acts 1:11). One hundred twenty of the five hundred witnesses of the ascension did obey and went to the Upper Room to pray.
It is important to note what was not in the Lord’s curriculum during these dynamic weeks. Jesus did not establish a plan of apostolic succession by appointing a successor for Judas, who betrayed Him and then committed suicide (Acts 1:15–26). He did not teach anything about church government. He did not explain how to accumulate personal wealth. Neither did He fixate on sharpening the individual self-esteem of His disciples. Nor did His tutoring even speak to the need to build strong marriages and families. Each was a theme worthy of the Master Teacher, but none of them fitted His objectives in those power packed days. Instead, the Lord sharply focused on what had to happen to launch His church.
The Lord knew if:
- The disciples’ faith in Him and His resurrection was absolute;
- Their trust In Him was wholehearted as the living Word of God, and their Scriptures as the written Word;
- Their commitment to His Great Command and the Great Commission was unqualified.
- They yearned to be filled with the same power for ministry that characterized His own life, so that they could serve their heavenly Father and the needs of people as He did;
- Then they were ready to graduate to the Upper Room to receive the Holy Spirit; and
- The Holy Spirit, in and through them, would inaugurate the Lord’s church, doing it without a single sword, dagger or a spear.
Ten days after Jesus’ ascension, at about nine in the morning, events unfolded in the Upper Room that uniquely spotlighted what would be the worldwide application of Jesus’ stunning success at Golgotha.
One of the Lord’s most far reaching and most passionate prophecies was launched that electric, New Covenant morning. He had told His disciples at Caesarea Philippi, “I will build my church!” The statement actually drips with commitment and passion. Jesus’ vision was so focused on it He took that prophecy with Him to Golgotha and poured out His blood to make it happen.
The church He started is still advancing around the world today.
What a curriculum was in store for the disciples in those forty days plus ten! What a curriculum awaits our attention too!
Please, dear reader. If like dry sand in your hand, this magnificent curriculum slipped through your fingers last year, please don’t let the gospel ship sail past you again.
Adapted from Our Awesome Lord by Frank G. Tunstall, Chapter Seven, “Forty Days with the Master Teacher,” Creation House, 2008.