LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR
April 18, 2015 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 813-835-0129
In the year 30 AD the celebration of Passover came very near the weekly program of 2015. Passover fell this year on Saturday, April 4. The Christian commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus fell on April 3, which in 30 AD would have been Passover, or Nissan 15.
I mention this because the Gospels do not place the Ascension of Jesus until forty days after his resurrection. Luke, the most conscious historian of the New Testament writers, tells us, “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking to them about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).”
The Church was born on Pentecost, which is fifty days following Passover. This year it falls on Sunday, May 24. The Apostles were back in Jerusalem for the feast. They came early because Jesus’ Ascension took place from the Mount of Olives Luke places the event near Bethany, on the east side of the hill. From here they returned to the city which is very near.
Only ten of Jesus’ appearances during this forty day period are recorded in the Gospels. Five of these take place in Jerusalem on Resurrection Sunday. One other takes place in Jerusalem a week later in the Upper Room with Thomas present. The appearance to James, Jesus’ brother and first Bishop of Jerusalem, probably takes place sometime during this first week following the resurrection before the Apostles leave for Galilee. It is mentioned by Paul in I Corinthians 15:7.
The eighth and ninth recorded appearances take place in the Galilee. The most engaging for me is recorded in John 21 where Jesus meets his Apostles on the shore of the lake. The ninth appearance is on a mountainside in Galilee where Jesus meets with over five hundred of his followers. When Paul speaks of this event in I Corinthians 15 he observes that most of these disciples are still living. The fullest record of this appearing is recorded by Matthew in chapter 28.
The final farewell to the Apostles is taken on the Mount of Olives outside of Jerusalem. Ten days later the Holy Spirit enrolls and empowers the Church for the evangelization of the entire world.
Luke clearly indicates that these forty days between Passover and Pentecost were filled with instruction and preparation for the mission of evangelism given the Apostle. I am always a bit disappointed that the Gospels give us so little of Jesus teaching. John indicates in the last verse of his Gospel, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
Every time I let my mind wander on this road I remember a traditional Passover song, “Dyanu,” It Is Enough.” All we need is given.
This is an important period of time for Christians. It is a time to remember Jesus as victor, teacher, sender and equipper. Last night I watched the first chapter of “AD” on NBC. It is a valuable reminder that Jesus left us work to do.
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.) END – whs