Here’s a question worth asking: Why did the resurrected Jesus stick around for another 40 days? Apparently he had more to say and do. The book of Acts reliably informs us that Jesus did not immediately rush back to heaven. Instead, “He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3) That’s a podcast I would download if it were available.
Jesus’ message in the 40 days of resurrection was really no different than his message during his three years of ministry: The gospel of the Kingdom of God. After the resurrection, Jesus continued to speak about the Kingdom of God. It’s worth noting that the book of Acts opens and closes with the Kingdom of God front and center. The very last verse in the book shows us Paul, three decades later, proclaiming the Kingdom of God. (Acts 28: 31)
In the run-up to Easter we have prepared our hearts and meditated on the meaning and importance his sacrifice of the cross. Many people engage in some form of fasting as a preparation for the High Holy Day. Yet C.S. Lewis once observed that the Christian calendar is as full of feasts as of fasts. Today, with the pageantry of Easter now yesterday’s memory, the pages of the Christian calendar turn from fasting to feasting. Lent — those days of fasting and meditation — is now behind us. We are free to indulge ourselves in the bounty of the Kingdom of God.
There are plenty of Lenten devotionals. They help us reflect on the gravity of the cross and the glory of resurrection. But what do you do after Easter? It’s the question of what it’s like to live in the Age to Come. In modern life, the days between Easter and Pentecost are usually an after-thought, but for Christian leaders they are the opportunity to proclaim the significance of the resurrection in our lives. The risen Jesus didn’t leave in a hurry: He hung out with his disciples and put the finishing touches on three years of training. He wants to do the same for us.