The Last 40 Days with Jesus

In building up to Pentecost, we are first going to look at some happenings during the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and the His ascension. Amazing how scriptures connects with scriptures (the Scarlet Thread) in the Holy Word. We call it full circle.

Matthew 28:6 (NIV)
He [Jesus] is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Jesus’ Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus is the key to the our Faith:

  1. We can be absolutely sure that he will do all He has promised.
  2. It shows us that He is the Living Christ and not a false prophet or impostor.
  3. We can be assured of our eternal life, life after our physical death.
  4. The divine power of Jesus can bring our spiritually dead selves back to life.
  5. We can bare witness to the world that he has risen!

The bodily resurrection is so important that the authors of the four books of the Gospel all give their account of the event.

Jesus rises from the dead:

  1. Matthew 28:1–7
  2. Mark 16:1–8
  3. Luke 24:1–12
  4. John 20:1–9)

People who hear about the resurrection for the first time may need time before they can comprehend this amazing story. They tend to pass through any of four stages of belief as presented in John 20.

Four stages of belief:

  1. John 20:2 – Like Mary Magdalene, they may think the event is a fabrication or hard to believe.
  2. John 20:6 – Like Peter, they may check out the facts and still be puzzled about what happened.
  3. John 20:16 – Again, like Mary Magdalene, they may need a personal encounter with Jesus to accept the fact of His resurrection (John 20:16).
  4. John 20:28 – Like Thomas, they may need to feel Jesus’ love and compassion to soothe their doubts.

The Empty Tomb

Almost all of the Easter Cantata’s I’ve ever seen showed the empty tomb in the following sequence.

Typical Easter Cantata sequence of events:

  1. The tomb was guarded throughout the night.
  2. Close to morning, a shining angel of the LORD appears.
  3. The soldiers fainted as if dead.
  4. The angel rolled away the stone.
  5. Jesus walks out and leaves the scene.
  6. The two Marys arrive at dawn.
  7. The angel calms the women
  8. The angel tells the women that Jesus has risen.
  9. The angel commanded the women to tell the disciples.

As typically depicted, it seems that the guards didn’t actually see Jesus leave the tomb. Also, the cantatas show the Marys arriving after the stone was rolled away. But, If you read Matthew 28:1–7 carefully, the flow of events actually appeared to have happened in a different order.

Matthew 28 sequence of events:

  1. The tomb was guarded throughout the night.
  2. Verse 1: The Marys arrived at the tomb at dawn.
  3. Verse 2: A shining angel of the LORD appeared.
  4. Verse 2: The angel of the LORD rolled away the stone and sat upon it.
  5. Verse 4: The guards fainted as if dead.
  6. Verse 5: The angle of the LORD calms the women.
  7. Verse 6: The angel tells the women that Jesus has risen.
  8. Verse 7: The angel commands the women to tell the disciples.

This indicates that the guards AND the women witnessed the stone being rolled away. It appears that the soldiers did not simply faint at the sight of the angel. But, also, the sight of the EMPTY tomb which the angel revealed. Soldiers had been diligently guarding the tomb for three and a half days. They knew failure at their duties would certainly mean a death sentence.

So, how did Jesus leave the tomb? He left the tomb while it was still securely SEALED and well guarded! When did Jesus rise? He rose any time after 6 PM on the previous day! See our post on the Jewish Calendar that describes a Jewish day is from 6 PM to 6 PM, not Midnight to Midnight as we do. So, it is very likely the soldiers had been guarding an empty tomb for twelve hours and did not know it!

Proof of the Resurrection

Is there proof of the resurrection? The grave-clothes was left as if Jesus had passed right through them (John 20:6–7). The burial headpiece was folded up and it was about the right distance from the wrappings that had enveloped Jesus’ body.

Because of the shock and fear of the event, it would seem that neither the women nor the disciples disturbed the contents of the empty tomb. In fact, Mary Magdalene thought the priests or Romans may had moved the body (John 20:13,15).

A grave robber or His disciples couldn’t possibly have made off with Jesus’ body because the burial clothes were still shaped as if around a body.

Nugget: A Jewish custom: If the Master of the house crumpled his napkin, he was finished with the meal. Then the servants could clear the table. But, if the Master folded his napkin, it meant he was coming back. The servants patiently waited for the Master to return. Jesus (Master) will return for His bride.

1 Corinthians 15:6 (NIV)
After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

The Guards’ Report (Matthew 28:11–15)

First, in Matthew 28:2, an angel of the LORD revealed the soldiers had been guarding an empty tomb. The tomb had been closely guarded from the time it was sealed until the time the stone was rolled away. So, they knew it was impossible for the body to be missing that Sunday morning.

In Matthew 28:11, some of the Roman soldiers went to the priests to told them the truth about the empty tomb. The rest of the guards were likely fleeing for their lives. the priests did not want to believe report. Also, they did not want the “rumors” about a bodily resurrection to spread. So, they paid the guards to spread lies that the disciples stole the body.

Today, there are still many conspiracy theories stating there was no resurrection. Some even say he did not die but lived a normal life. There are many books written by popular fiction authors with the plot that Jesus’ bones are hidden in a secret place. Thus, writers try to show Jesus was totally human and not God’s Son.

Praise God, Jesus IS God’s Son and ALIVE!

Many Were Disappointed (Luke 24:13–35)

Luke tells us that many people were disappointed about Jesus’ death even though they were given first hand testimony about the resurrection. Many people in Jesus’ day was expecting Him to be a military and political leader like King David. They wanted Jesus to set up His kingdom.

The very day of His resurrection, Jesus appeared to a couple of ordinary disciples who were walking to the town of Emmaus. Being confused and heartbroken, they were walking away from the fellowship of believers in Jerusalem. Yet, Jesus came to them personally to explain how the Old Testament, the Tanakh, foretold His coming, death, resurrection, and ultimate return.

Scriptures Jesus may have used:

  1. Genesis 3:15 – The promised offspring
  2. Isaiah 53 – Going through the suffering servant
  3. Zechariah 12:10 – The pierced one
  4. Malachi 3 – The messenger of the covenant

As they walked together during the afternoon, Jesus explained how “Yeshua” is the scarlet thread that is woven throughout the Tanakh (Old Testament).

It is interesting that Jesus kept it hidden that they were actually walking with the Messiah. It wasn’t until they were eating the evening meal and broke bread together that their eyes were opened. Jesus’ work with them was done and He disappeared from their sight.

Today, Jesus is appearing directly to people in visions all over the world, especially in the Middle-East. But, this does not negate our responsibility to reach the world for Him.

Gone Fishing!

What do a group of guys like to do when they don’t know what else to do plus having some free time? Go fishing, of course! Seriously, the disciples’ plan to go fishing didn’t mean they were forsaking their commitment to Christ. They knew that Jesus had risen from the grave. Yet, they did not know what to do next. They had not received their instruction to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit come upon them in power (Acts 1:4–5). To go fishing was a necessity for these men. They still needed to provide for themselves and their families (John 21:3).

It is crucial to receive guidance from the LORD in all our work. If we live without Christ’s presence and guiding hand, then much of what we do become empty failure and wasted effort (John 21:6).

Net Maintenance

Fishermen on the Sea of Galilee used nets, often bell-shaped, with lead weights around the edges. A net would be thrown flat unto the water. The lead weights would cause the net to sink around the fish. Then the fishermen would pull on a cord, drawing the net around the fish.

Nets had to be kept in good condition. First, they were washed to remove weeds and then mended. Mmm, sounds familiar? As believers of Jesus, we have a calling for service. At times, maybe daily, we need to be washed, weeded, and mended.

Two Different Fishing Trips

There are two main fishing ventures mentioned in the gospel. The first trip is in Matthew 4:18–22; Mark 1:16–20; Luke 5:1–10; John 1:40–42 occurred near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The second trip mentioned in John 21:1–14 occurred after Jesus’ resurrection.

Comparing two fishing trips:

  1. The men went fishing returning with empty nets. Jesus told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. After complaining, they followed the Master’s voice. Then their nets started breaking due to such a large number of fish. Jesus made them fishers of men (Luke 5:10). It is important to note that when the net broke, some of the fish escaped.
  2. Again, the men went fishing returning with empty nets (John 21:5). This time they recognize Jesus and without complaint followed His instructions to cast the nets on the right side. Again, they had difficulty with the nets because of the large catch. Good news, this time! The nets held together. Afterwards, Jesus fed them breakfast (John 21:12).

Nugget: The terms “left” and “right” are used together frequently in the Holy Scripture. This verse explains the usage of the terms quite well:

Ecclesiastes 10:2 (ESV)
A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right,
but a fool’s heart to the left.

During breakfast, did Jesus explained the differences in the two fishing trips? In first one, some of the fish escaped because of the breaking nets. Believers have accepted Jesus but for whatever reason let the world pulled them away. Jesus wants us to bring them back to Him. Plus, Jesus wants us to reach out and catch the ones who have not accepted Him as LORD and SAVIOR. We are fishers of men who need to follow His instructions to go out into our neighborhoods, cities, and the world.

A Talk With Peter (John 21:15–19)

In this beach scene, Jesus led Peter through an experience which removed the cloud of his denial. In The Last Watch section of our blog post The Jewish Calendar, we presented how Peter had disowned Jesus three times. Now, three times, the love of Jesus for Peter would cover the three denials of Peter’s worst night. Such amazing grace and love.

Three times, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. When Peter answered, “Yes,” Jesus told him to feed His sheep. It is one thing to say you love Jesus. But, the real test is the willingness to serve Him.

Peter had already repented. Jesus was asking him to commit his life. Peter’s life changed when he finally realized that Jesus was the resurrected King.

Changes in Peter:

  1. Occupation: He went from fisherman to evangelist.
  2. Identity: His behavior went from impetuous to a “rock.”
  3. Relationship: His relationship with Jesus became even stronger.
  4. Commitment: He became committed to his task.
  5. Life: He was now truly willing to die for the gospel of Christ.

Jesus is asking us:

  1. Do you truly love me?
  2. Do you really love Jesus?
  3. Are you even His friend?
  4. Then feed my sheep.

Jesus’ blood, death, and resurrection covers our multitude of sins and shortcomings. Our commission is to take this message to the unbelievers.

The Master’s Program

One can consider Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection as the final exam for the disciples’ undergraduate studies. As you can tell from the above paragraphs, Peter flunked the exam. But, Jesus gave Peter a make-up exam which he passed with flying colors! So, now it came the time for the disciples to enter the Master’s program to move from disciples to apostles.

Luke 24:45 (NIV)
Then he [Jesus] opened their [disciples’] minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

As God described the Tabernacle to Moses for forty days, Jesus explained His Kingdom to the disciples for forty days. At this time, the disciples’ eyes were opened and they finally understood what the Scriptures said concerning Jesus and the kingdom in Heaven.

Many times, new believers are too eager to preach the Word to their friends. Yes, it is very good to give one’s testimony. But, new believers need to be discipled before they can be truly effective.

In the 70s, the Charismatic movement swept through the U.S,. Many, many believers received the power of the Holy Spirit like the disciples received at Pentecost. Unfortunately, many of these believers did not receive further teaching to bank and strengthen the fire in their hearts. Plus, many of the newly Spirit filled believers were forced out of their traditional churches. The majority became dishearten. Though still saved, they let the fire burn down to just embers as they returned to their traditional churches if they even returned to a church at all. Many “fish” got away.

Numerous believers did strive and overcame the obstacles put in their way. Their hearts still burn with the power, today.

Graduation Day (The Great Commission)

It is graduate day for the disciples. Jesus had taught them what they needed to know to work for Him in their new careers. What we call “The Great Commission” is described in Matthew 28:19–20; Mark 16:15–18.

In other words, spread the Good News to the ends of the world!

God gave Jesus authority over heaven and earth. On the basis of that authority, Jesus told His disciples to make more disciples as they preached, baptized, and taught.

Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world telling everyone that He had paid the penalty for sin. That those who believe in Him can be forgiven and live eternally with God.

With the same authority, Jesus commands us to tell others the Good News and make them disciples for the kingdom. He has made us His body on this earth. Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) disciples today in all parts of the world are preaching this gospel to people who haven’t heard about the true Messiah. The driving power that carries missionaries around the world and sets the Body of Christ in motion is the faith that comes from the resurrection. The harvest fields are large…more workers are needed for the work of Christ.

Do you ever feel as though you don’t have the skill or determination to be a witness for the Messiah? You must personally realize that Jesus rose from the dead and lives for you today. As you grow in your relationship, He will give you both the opportunities and the inner strength to tell His message.

We, two ordinary vessels, can testify to this truth. We are nothing special in the eyes of the world. Individually, the task of doing this blog would be beyond us. Through having a deep love for Jesus with guidance from the Holy Spirit, it is being made possible. This blog doesn’t belong to us…It belongs to the One who leadeth us. Thank you, LORD!

Servanthood

Mark’s Gospel emphasizes Christ’s power as well as His servanthood. Jesus’ life and teaching turned the world upside down. His teaching is still turning the world upside down.

The world sees power as a way to gain control over others. But, Jesus, with all authority and power in heaven and earth, chose to serve others.

Jesus’ servanthood:

  1. Held children in His arms.
  2. Healed the sick.
  3. Performed miracles for the glory of His Father.
  4. Washed the disciples’ feet.
  5. Died for the sins of the world.

Following Jesus means receiving the same power to serve. As believer’s, we are called to be servants of Jesus. As Jesus served, so shall we serve.

Just a Little Talk With Jesus

Enjoy this YouTube video!

Now, let’s go fishing!

There is more to say about the 40 days, next time.

Until then,
שָׁלוֹם (Shalom!)