In his second book, Acts, Luke makes it clear that Jesus appeared to his disciples for 40 days after His resurrection from the dead. Jesus dedicated those 40 days to helping His disciples understand the Scriptures and to explaining the Kingdom of God and the power of the Holy Spirit to them. We are currently in the same 40-day time period between the resurrection of Jesus and His ascension.
The disciples were given a life calling which has been handed down to us. Jesus told them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
The gospel of Mark gives more detail about the power and authority for the disciples. "And these signs will accompany those who believe; in my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." (Mark 16:17-18)
In the gospel of Luke, we are told that Jesus "opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." He reminded them of this: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24:45-49)
John includes some stories of the disciples' encounters with Jesus that are not in the other three gospels. One story recounts the appearance of Jesus to Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James, and John as they fished on Lake Galilee. He instructs them to fish on the starboard side of the boat after they caught nothing. Their catch was so large that it made pulling in their net almost impossible. Scripture tells us there were 153 fish in the net, a number that represents the harvest that was to come from the people groups of the world. (Footnote from The Passion Translation)
Before Jesus ascended, He advised His disciples to stay in Jerusalem until the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them. (Acts 1:4) Can you imagine the conversation that took place among the disciples as they waited for the infilling of the Holy Spirit? They probably spoke about the events of the last three years of their lives with Jesus and wondered what the next chapter would look like. The 50 days between the Resurrection and Pentecost should also be one of review and preparation for us. There is always more with Jesus! Perhaps we will have a new perspective on our lives as we wait upon the Holy Spirit to reinvigorate and renew us. The Bible tells us, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:14)
Joan E. Mathias