Jesus had 40 days after His resurrection to equip His disciples in-person to carry forward God’s mission for at least two millennium. Maybe that helps explain why Jesus wasted no time giving His marching orders.
In reflecting on Palm Sunday, I wonder whether His disciples expected Jesus to leave Jerusalem. I could understand it if they thought Jesus would be made King of Israel by the day of Passover. If so, they were partly correct. Jesus didn’t leave Jerusalem the day after the Passover, but it was because He was dead and buried. When the resurrected Lord did leave Jerusalem, it was in a most glorious way.
Between His resurrection and ascension, Jesus had to help the disciples cope the chaos and shock of His death resurrection so they could focus on the future. Jesus did so by appearing the His followers multiple times. Not only did He appear, but Jesus reassured them. For example, twice in this account Jesus says to them: “Peace be with You.”
Jesus also had 40 days in-person to clarify what would not happen. We find in Acts chapter one that Jesus dispelled any thoughts that He would become a political leader, taking over the throne of Israel from the Romans. In that same chapter Jesus made it clear that His disciples couldn’t restrict the Good News of Jesus to the Jewish nation.
Instead, Jesus commissioned his disciples as apostles. The term “apostles” means “sent ones.” They were being sent to continue Jesus’ ministry. They would proclaim the Good News to those who were lost, speaking words of forgiveness to those who confessed their sinfulness and need for God’s grace. At the same time, the apostles would teach those who came to faith in Jesus how to live together, which included confessing and forgiving specific offenses against one another.
Those of us who believe in Jesus’ today are proof positive of the power and effectiveness of Jesus’ equipping ministry those 40 days. And we are blessed that our Lord continues to send us out to extend His mission.
(A Second Look devotions are written for the congregations of the Ohio District LCMS.)