The Lord's Ministry During the Forty Days

It must have been thrilling for the disciples to speak with their resurrected master and to listen to His familiar voice, discussing the “things concerning the kingdom.” Apart from the incident recorded in the Gospels, the only fragment of teaching during the transitional period of Jesus’ forty days after His resurrection is found in Acts 1:1-8. The instructions recorded here are a greatly condensed summary of the principles given to the men to whom the Lord was entrusting the evangelization of the world and the establishment of His kingdom on earth. 

Jesus Sends Witnesses with the Holy Spirit

"You shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria and unto the outermost parts of the earth." (Acts 1:8) Their witness was to extend from Jerusalem in ever-widening circles until it had reached earth's remotest bounds. These circles of extension would begin first in Jerusalem, then out to Judea, then to Samaria, and finally the outermost parts of the world. Jesus revealed to them the source of their power for such a stupendous enterprise. They may have protested, "We are not capable of this! We are only poor fishermen. We have little education and no experience." At this point, the Lord reveals to them the source of their power, saying, “Tarry in Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high." (Luke 24:48-49) They would learn the lesson written by the prophet Zechariah in Zechariah 4:6: "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." The story of Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist might also have come to the disciples minds at this point as they remembered "the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him." (Matthew 3:16) These superhuman tasks could not be carried out through inadequate human resources, rather through the power of the God-given Holy Spirit.


Jesus Commands His Kingdom Extended

Most of the Lord’s post-resurrection appearances had some relation to the extension of His kingdom. In His attitude is revealed the passion for souls that blazed in His heart; he was the perfect evangelist. When He appeared to the ten disciples in John 20:21, His commission was very clear: “as the Father has sent Me, even so I send you.” As He had been commissioned by His Father for the work of redemption in His earthly ministry and death on the cross, He in turn sent them forth as missionaries under His authority and direction. To the seven on the sea of Tiberias in John 21:1-6, Jesus commanded them to “cast the net on the right side of the boat.” They had fished all night and caught nothing. All of their human skills had failed, and despite their expertise their nets were empty. Here the Lord took control, gave directions, and under His supervision they caught a multitude of fish. The Lord Jesus is the “Lord of the harvest.” He knew where the fish were, and if we expect to reap a harvest of souls we must be under the control of Christ and completely directed by Him. When Jesus spoke to His disciples on the mountain in Galilee in Matthew 28:16-20, the Lord outlined His program of world evangelization. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” This divine command has never been rescinded or modified; it is binding on believers in every age. Finally, when Jesus appeared to the eleven in Jerusalem in Luke 24:44-53, Jesus reminded the disciples that repentance and remission of sins should be preached to all nations. But more importantly, He commanded them to “tarry in Jerusalem” until they had received the power of the Holy Spirit, which alone would enable them to execute this staggering commission. (Luke 24:48-49)

It is important that we consider this great emphasis on the Spirit that Jesus’ teaching had on the utter and absolute abandonment of fleshly energy as the power of evangelistic work. Let us meditate on the words of Alice J. Janvrin in the hymn He Expecteth:

“Shall we – dare we - disappoint Him?

Brethren, let us rise

He who died for us is watching

From the skies.

Waiting till His royal banner

Floateth far and wide

Till He seeth of His travail