Too Good to Miss: THE SEVEN WEEKS AFTER EASTER
After His resurrection, our Lord was on this earth in ministry another 40 days. So why is it so easy to go-all-out for Easter in our churches, then take a deep breath, relax, and maybe even go on vacation after Easter?
Without dispute Easter is the big event on the annual Christian calendar. Celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus in our churches is worthy of a massive buildup and a triumphant service on Easter Sunday – resurrection morning. While we give the big 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? Is that opinion 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 given to the next seven weeks in many churches witnesses Jesus must have stayed with us too long — longer than necessary! [sic]
Should those days slip like dry sand through our fingers, and sail away from us like ships silently passing in the night?
Ah! brothers and sisters. Let’s set our hearts to re-discover 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 time interval between His resurrection and ascension, the glorified Savior also 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 so 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 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.
- Giving 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.
Jesus had only six short weeks of actual teaching time with His eleven disciples after He left His tomb empty and 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 did it with the same implicit trust and passion that characterized His ministry before His crucifixion. He wanted His apostles to discover that the next two big events after His resurrection would be His ascension and Pentecost. The message at the ascension the angels gave to the crowd starring into the sky on Mt. Olivet 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. None of these worthy themes 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 of God;
- 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 Spirit through them would birth the Lord’s church.
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 first electric morning of the New Covenant. 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 He took that prophecy with Him to Golgotha and poured out His blood to make it happen. His church is still advancing around the world today.
What a curriculum was in store for the disciples in those 40 days! 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.
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