Forty days with Jesus
By the Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer
1 Corinthians 15:3-6
Christ arose! On the third day, as Jesus predicted, he arose from the dead! It was his resurrection that brought the truth he had spoken to his disciples into, at last, complete understanding.
The soldiers who guarded the tomb of Jesus were the first to experience the event, the earthquake, the angel of the Lord who rolled back the stone and sat on it, and the angel’s bright like-lightning appearance. The guards “shook and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:2-4).
The women had come to the tomb to finish the final burial preparations for the Lord. We find the passages about the women in Matthew 28:1, 5-10, Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-8 and John 20:1-18.
In these scriptures, we find Mary Magdalene, Mary who was the mother of James, Joanna, Salome and others not mentioned, going to the tomb. In particular, Jesus showed himself alive to Mary Magdalene (and also to “the other Mary” in Matthew 28:8-10).
Before appearing to his disciples, we find a short scripture in Mark 16:12-13 about Jesus appearing to two believers on a country road. In Luke 24:13-35, we find a longer version of Jesus with the believers and discover they were walking on the Road to Emmaus.
In these scriptures, Jesus opened up the words of Moses and the Prophets, words that foreshadowed his coming. Jesus would continue opening up the scripture of the Old Testament to his disciples during the next 40 days.
Next, in the scripture, Jesus appeared to and ate with his disciples, even showing his wounds to Thomas who had doubted, thus proving it was him and he was alive (Luke 24:44-49 and John 20:19-31).
We also learn from our Bible reading that Jesus appeared alive following his resurrection to more than 500 people. For verification, I offer to you, dear readers, this verse written by Paul in his letter to the believers in Corinth: From The Message translation of the Bible by Eugene H. Peterson, we read in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, “The first thing I did was to place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins exactly as scripture tells it; that he was buried, that he was raised from death on the third day, again exactly as scripture says; and that he presented himself alive to Peter and then to his closest followers; and again to more than five hundred followers at the same time, most of whom are still living … ”
In the book of Acts 1:1-3, the author (Luke, a Gentile physician) wrote to us about the 40 days Jesus spent with his disciples, opening up the words of the Old Testament prophets, and Moses, along with other teachings. He spoke to them about God’s kingdom and made it abundantly clear that he was (and is) alive.
We know from John 21:25 that “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
We do not know all that Jesus taught his disciples in those 40 days, but we do know from the gospels that have taught us about Jesus’ three-year ministry, that they include Old Testament scriptures that show how Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophets.
Today, we are, in part, the recipients of those extra 40 days of Jesus, who opened up the same Old Testament scriptures we read today. Some of the Old Testament scripture that refers to Jesus include Deuteronomy 18:15-20. This scripture was used by Stephen, in Acts 7:37, as he spoke of Jesus, as God’s Son, the Messiah.
Then, there are Psalms 16:9-11 and 22 that speak of Christ’s suffering and resurrection, and especially there are the words of Isaiah 53 that speak of Jesus suffering for our sins and making intercession for us.
Let us not forget the words of Jesus that he spoke in the synagogue, words that came from Isaiah 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor … ”
In Luke 4:18-19, we read these words spoken by Jesus to the people in the synagogue in Nazareth, his hometown. Stopping at the verse that states, “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,” Jesus said, as written in Luke 4:21, “Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Did the people remember the times Jesus spoke about himself as the Son of God and the Son of Man, as the one who came to fulfill the scriptures, as he foretold his death and then his resurrection on the third day?
Even as we read the New Testament scriptures of his resurrection, we find that many of his disciples did not know what to believe, at first. They knew Jesus had died in a horrible way on the cross, and they feared that they too would be arrested and killed. They were in hiding, until Jesus appeared to them behind a locked door.
As they rejoiced and worshiped Jesus Christ, the Savior, he taught them how to fulfill the Great Commission, to bring the gospel of salvation to all peoples.
Today, we are the recipients of those teachings of Jesus. Jesus came to offer us life, and he is still with us today. Hallelujah!