We are big on Easter, and rightfully so—God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, putting an exclamation mark on the life of his Son. Some branches of the faith are big on Pentecost, celebrating the coronation of Jesus in heaven and the overflow of the Spirit dripping down to the earth.
Between the two, there’s a span of 50 days.
In the hubbub of Easter, we sometimes forget Jesus stuck around for another 40 days after resurrection. Apparently he had more to say and do. The very first verse in the book of Acts teaches us the gospels were about “all that Jesus began to do and teach.” The rest of Acts teaches us that Jesus is still doing and teaching in the days, weeks, months and decades after the gospels. The work of the first-century church was the work of Jesus. Isn’t that true today? It’s all too easy to substitute our work for his, to engage in ministry apart from his direction. What is Jesus doing and teaching in our day? Are we still working with him or simply working for him?
Jesus’ message in the 40 days of resurrection was really no different than his message during his three years of ministry: He taught about the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Acts opens and closes with the Kingdom of God front and center. The very last verse in the book shows us Paul, three decades later, proclaiming the Kingdom of God (Acts 28: 31). Have we meditated on the meaning and importance of the Kingdom, or have we reduced the message of Jesus to only his sacrifice of the cross? Individually and corporately, we need to rediscover the Kingdom message.
The angels who were present at the ascension asked a pretty good question: “Why are you looking toward heaven?” (Acts 1:11). It’s a question worth considering. Frequently, we are more concerned with heaven than with the Kingdom of God. The breathtaking sacrifice at Calvary purchased the forgiveness of sins and the hope of heaven, but in our generation, many followers of Jesus have limited his work and message to heaven and heaven only. We should ask: If the gospel is only about going to heaven, why did Jesus invite us to take up the yoke of discipleship?
I’d love to get the podcast of everything Jesus taught in those 40 days, but it hasn’t shown up on iTunes yet. In the meantime, he invites us to work with him just as closely as the first disciples.
So why 50 forgotten days instead of 40? <read more>