The Resurrection and the Ascension
The Resurrection and the Ascension of Jesus Christ were the climatic events of His ministry on earth. By His resurrection, Christ defeated the power of death. And by His ascension, He gave the redeemed the hope of His continual ministry on their behalf in the heavenly sanctuary.
Christ foretold of His Ascension (John 6:62). And He informed His disciples that it was necessary for Him to leave them (John 14:1–6). Therefore, when He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9, 10), the disciples realized that He must stay there until His second advent. The good news of the ascension was preached in the early church by Peter (Acts 3:21) and Paul (1 Timothy 3:16) and the rest of the apostles.
How many days between Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension?
The Resurrection (Luke 24) took place on the Feast of First Fruits. The Pentecost was seven weeks later. That’s why it’s sometimes named the Feast of Weeks. The dates of both were established by counting from the first Sabbath after Passover. The feast of First Fruits was the first day after the Sabbath and Pentecost was after 50 days. So, there were only 49 days after Easter Sunday reaching to Pentecost. In other words, the time between Easter and Pentecost was seven weeks.
According to the book of Acts, Jesus’ ascension to Heaven took place the 40th day after His resurrection. Luke wrote, “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; 1:1-9). Thus, there were 40 days between resurrection and ascension. That means Pentecost was 9 days after the Ascension day.
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell upon the Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 2). During that time of the year, the Jews, who came from every nation, gathered to worship the Lord. They heard the gospel preached by the believers of Jesus. And every person understood what was preached in his own language as a result of God’s miraculous intervention. Consequently, they praised the Lord saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?” (Acts 2:7-8).
After the preaching, the crowds were “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37). And “they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). And this was the beginning of the New Testament Church.
The day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of the words Jesus spoke to His disciples regarding the Holy Spirit of God: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). It was a day of great mercy, when both Jews and Gentiles were given the light. For God “desires all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
What did Jesus do between the resurrection and the ascension?
During the forty days after Jesus rose, He remained on the earth to prepare His disciples for the work before them. Jesus did not remain with them continuously but revealed Himself to them repeatedly during that period.
One of His encounters was at the road to Emmaus with two of His followers. Here, Jesus, “…beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). Thus, He spoke of the prophecies concerning His advent, His rejection by the Jews, and His death (Isaiah 53; Ezekiel 2:3-6; Deuteronomy 21:23).
Jesus showed these men that every specification of the Messianic prophecies had been fulfilled. “Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” And He added, “Ye are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:45-48).
Affirmation and Reconciliation
After the resurrection, Jesus stayed with disciples and called them to receive the Holy Ghost and be empowered to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God (John 20:19-22). However, Thomas was not there. He declared that he would not believe the report of the other disciples unless he saw Jesus’ wounds for himself (vs. 24, 25). Therefore, Jesus gave Thomas an opportunity to touch His pierced hands and side (vs. 26-27). “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (vs. 29).
Also, Peter needed reconciliation with His Master for he had denied Jesus three times (Luke 22:54-62). Although Peter had done this, Jesus still sought after him and desired him to be a leader in the church. Therefore, Jesus asked Peter a question three times. And “He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep” (John 21:17).
In this interaction, Peter showed his repentance and the desire to fully follow Jesus. It also showed Jesus’ ability to get to the heart of the matter and make a person’s calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10).
The Great Commission
The Lord wanted them to proclaim the gospel of peace and salvation through repentance to the world. For they had been witnesses to all His works. The disciples were to make known to the world the events of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. They were to share the mysteries of the plan of salvation and the power of Jesus for the remission of sins.
Finally, Jesus commissioned His disciples, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20). Also, the Lord promised the disciples power and divine protection (Mark 16:15–18). And He assured them of His perpetual presence (Matthew 28:20).
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In His service,