The Forty Days before Ascension
Luke informs us that Jesus presented Himself alive after His resurrection to the apostles whom He had chosen by many infallible proofs during a forty day period. Can’t you imagine how thrilling it was for those dispirited disciples to be in the presence of their risen Lord? They knew how He had suffered and died such a horrible death and now to be able to talk to Him must have been most exciting. Jesus spent 40 days, from the time of His resurrection till the day of His ascension into heaven, to speak to them things pertaining to the kingdom of God. First, Luke tells us that Jesus presented Himself alive by many infallible proofs. The phrase “many infallible proofs” signifies the strongest proof possible. Jesus knew that they would suffer for preaching the Gospel (I Cor. 15:3-4) and He wanted them to be absolutely convinced that He actually rose from the dead (Rom. 1:4). An example of what Jesus did is given to us when He presented Himself to Thomas, “Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing. And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27).
A second purpose for these forty days was to command the disciples: “….being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father….” Acts 1:3-4). It is obvious that the disciples did not understand many things about the Messiah and His kingdom before His death and Jesus could now speak more clearly about the cross and its relationship to the kingdom of God. We are not given any particulars concerning the kingdom Jesus taught them. However, Paul’s statement in Ephesians may help us understand some of the things: “How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power” (3:2-7).
A third purpose may have been to correct some misunderstandings. “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). I believe the reason the disciples used the phrase “restore the kingdom to Israel” is because they were anticipating a nationalistic kingdom of earthly glory as in the days of David and Solomon. Jesus said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8). They needed to forget the idea of an immediate defeat of Rome and the restoration of the Jewish kingdom and concentrate on the mission He had given them: And He said to them, “Go into the entire world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16).
From Walking in Truth
“Daily Devotionals by Guy Roberson”
From Expository Files 23.4; April 2016