40 Days and 20 Questions
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We have records in all the synoptic Gospels of Jesus hanging out with his disciples after his resurrection and before his ascension. Matthew 28 tells of the disciples meeting Jesus in Galilee where they were given the Great Commission. Later manuscripts of Mark’s Gospel tell of Jesus walking with two followers on the road to Emmaus and later appearing to the eleven as they were eating. Luke 24 also tells of Jesus walking with Cleopas and a friend on the road to Emmaus, but they did not recognize him until he broke bread with them. They then found the eleven in Jerusalem and were reporting about their encounter with Jesus when he appeared to all of them. He allowed them to touch him and they gave him a piece of fish to eat. Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem until they had “been clothed with power from on high.” He then led them out to the Mount of Olives where he was “taken up into heaven.”
John goes into a bit more detail in Chapter 21 where he tells of Jesus meeting several of the disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. They had been fishing all night with little to show until Jesus told them to cast their net one more time on the right side of the boat. They hauled in 153 large fish but their net did not break. Jesus prepared fish and bread for their breakfast. This was also the morning when Jesus reinstated Peter by asking him three times “Do you love me?” John reports that this was the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection.
In Acts 1, Doctor Luke says that Jesus was around for 40 days between his resurrection and ascension. The number 40 is a significant number in the Bible. Bible scholars note that often the number 40 is associated with periods of testing, trial, or probation. Other times it is associated with periods of new life, new growth, and transformation. The final 40 days of Jesus’ life on earth were certainly the latter. If you had been around for those 6 weeks, what questions would you have liked to ask Jesus? How about, “What was the pain like when those spikes were driven in your hands and feet? What was it like when you took your last breath? Did you know you were dead? What did it feel like when you realized you were alive again? Why haven’t you spent more time in Jerusalem showing the religious leaders and the Romans you are alive?” Yeah, I sound pretty brave now, but had I really been there I expect I would have been more like Bart Millard who wrote, “Will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine.”