Scripture reading – Acts 1:1-3

“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”  

The big picture

The three days of Easter (the Paschal Triduum)

  • Good Friday: Jesus ritually/legally qualifies us to share sacred space with God
    • Key scriptures: 2 Cor 5:21; Col 2:14; Rom 8:1; 1 Ptr 3:18; Heb 10:10,14
    • His body is hastily put in a borrowed tomb.
    • His spirit descends to the “place of the dead” (Heb. sheol, Gk. hades).

Second article of the Apostles Creed:

“I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord
who was… crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.” (ad inferos, “to those below”; not infernum)

  • Holy Saturday: Jesus prepares to relocate “Paradise” from underworld to heaven
    • Jesus encourages the saints in “Paradise” or “Abraham’s bosom” (Lk 16:22)
    • Jesus preaches to the spirits in Tartarus (1 Ptr 3:18-20; 2 Ptr 2:4-5; Jude 6-7; cf. Gen 6:1-4).
  • Easter Sunday or Pascha: Jesus becomes the first Human 2.0, the “New Humanity”
    • Greeks didn’t believe in the resurrection of the body but apotheosis of the soul
    • Jews believed in a general resurrection for judgment at end of the age
    • The NT teaches that believers are regenerated in this life (new spirit) and resurrected (new body) when Christ returns.
    • So, Jesus’ resurrection makes him a kind of “firstfruits” of a new, glorified humanity, into which we are being formed (1 Cor 15:20-23, 44-49)

The fifty days of Eastertide: three divine actions

  • Jesus trains his disciples. Jesus comes and goes, appearing to his many friends and teaching/training them during a forty-day period beginning at Easter. He eats, walks, talks, and answers questions. Ten appearances are recorded in NT (see below).
  • Jesus ascends to heaven. Jesus returns to the Father in heaven, apparently with the OT saints from sheol with him (Eph 4:7-10; Heb 12:1, 23; cf. Phil 1:23). Here he is coronated as king (Phil 2:9-11) and invested as High priest (Heb 9:23-24).
  • Jesus sends his Spirit: Jesus sends the Spirit to indwell believers on Day Fifty, Pentecost. Pentecost is the second of the three major festivals in JudaismPesach (Passover) on Good Friday; Shavuot (Weeks or Pentecost); and Sukkot (Tabernacles, Tents or Booths). It fulfills the OT prophesy that God would put his Spirit in his people (Ezek 36:24-27; cf. Jer 31:31-34; Rom 8:1-4).

Jesus’ appearances during Eastertide

  1. Mary Magdalene – Sunday morning (John 20:1-18)
  2. Mary and the other women – Sunday morning (Mt 28:1-10; Lk 24:1-12)
  3. Peter – Sunday morning or afternoon (Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5)
  4. Two disciples going to Emmaus – Sunday afternoon (Lk 24:13-35)
  5. Ten Apostles and others – Sunday evening (Lk 24:36-44; John 20:19-23)
  6. Eleven Apostles and others – one week later on Sunday evening (John 20:24-29)
  7. Apostles on the Sea of Galilee – catch of fish and reinstatement of Peter (John 21:1-23)
  8. Disciples on mountain in Galilee (over 500: 1 Cor 15:6): Great Commission (Mt 28:16-20)
  9. James, Jesus’ brother, and “all the apostles” (1 Cor 15:5-7)
  10. Ascension from Mt. of Olives (Lk 24:50-53; Acts 1:6-12)

Eastertide Exercise

In each of your Quiet Times this week with the Lord, slowly read a different resurrection story. Put yourself in it. “Feel” what it must have been like to meet the resurrected Jesus. Be with Jesus in your imagination, and talk with him about your experience. Then, “be” with Jesus throughout each day.