6 The Last Forty Days
6.1 The Resurrection of Jesus
After the Sabbath, suddenly a strong earthquake struck, and the Lord’s angel came down from heaven. He rolled away the stone and sat on it. The angel looked as bright as lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards shook from fear and fell down, as though they were dead.
Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James bought some spices to put on Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just as the sun was coming up, they went to the tomb. On their way, they were asking one another, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance for us?” But when they looked, they saw that the stone had already been rolled away. And it was a huge stone!
They went in. But they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus, and they did not know what to think.
Suddenly two men in shining white clothes stood beside them. The women were afraid and bowed to the ground.
The man said, “Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus from Nazareth, who was nailed to a cross.” But the men said, “Why are you looking in the place of the dead for someone who is alive?182 God has raised him to life, and he isn’t here. You can see the place where they put his body. Jesus isn’t here! He has been raised from death. Remember that while he was still in Galilee, he told you, ‘The Son of Man will be handed over to sinners who will nail him to a cross. But three days later he will rise to life.’
“Now go and tell his disciples, and especially Peter, that he will go ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.”
Then they remembered what Jesus had said. The women were frightened and yet very happy, as they hurried from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples.
Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women were the ones who had gone to the tomb. When they returned, they told the eleven apostles and the others what had happened. The apostles thought it was all nonsense, and they would not believe.
But Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. They ran side by side, until the other disciple ran faster than Peter and got there first. He bent over and saw the strips of linen cloth lying inside the tomb, but he did not go in.
When Simon Peter got there, he went into the tomb and saw the strips of cloth. He also saw the piece of cloth that had been used to cover Jesus’ face.
It was rolled up and in a place by itself. The disciple who got there first then went into the tomb, and when he saw it, he believed. At that time Peter and the other disciple did not know that the Scriptures said Jesus would rise to life. So the two of them went back to the other disciples.
6.2 Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
Very early on the first day of the week, after Jesus had risen to life, he appeared to Mary Magdalene.
Earlier he had forced seven demons out of her. Mary Magdalene stood crying outside the tomb.
She was still weeping, when she stooped down and saw two angels inside. They were dressed in white and were sitting where Jesus’ body had been. One was at the head and the other was at the foot. The angels asked Mary, “Why are you crying?”
She answered, “They have taken away my Lord’s body! I don’t know where they have put him.”
As soon as Mary said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she did not know who he was. Jesus asked her, “Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener and said, “Sir, if you have taken his body away, please tell me, so I can go and get him.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him, “Rabboni.” The Aramaic word “Rabboni” means “Teacher.”
Jesus told her, “Don’t hold on to me! I have not yet gone to the Father. But tell my disciples that I am going to the one who is my Father and my God, as well as your Father and your God.” Mary Magdalene then went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord. She also told them what he had said to her.191
Even though they heard that Jesus was alive and that Mary had seen him, they would not believe it.192
6.3 Jesus Appears to Others
Suddenly Jesus met them and greeted them. They went near him, held on to his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid! Tell my followers to go to Galilee. They will see me there.”
6.4 The Guard’s Report
While the women were on their way, some soldiers who had been guarding the tomb went into the city. They told the chief priests everything that had happened. So the chief priests met with the leaders and decided to bribe the soldiers with a lot of money. They said to the soldiers, “Tell everyone that Jesus’ disciples came during the night and stole his body while you were asleep. If the governor hears about this, we will talk to him. You won’t have anything to worry about.” The soldiers took the money and did what they were told. The Jewish people of Judea still tell each other this story.
6.5 Jesus Appears On the Road to Emmaus
That same day two of Jesus’ disciples were going to the village of Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. As they were talking and thinking about what had happened, Jesus came near and started walking along beside them. But they did not know who he was.
Jesus asked them, “What were you talking about as you walked along?”
The two of them stood there looking sad and gloomy. Then the one named Cleopas asked Jesus, “Are you the only person from Jerusalem who didn’t know what was happening there these last few days?”
“What do you mean?” Jesus asked. They answered:
Those things that happened to Jesus from Nazareth. By what he did and said he showed that he was a powerful prophet, who pleased God and all the people. Then the chief priests and our leaders had him arrested and sentenced to die on a cross.
We had hoped that he would be the one to set Israel free! But it has already been three days since all this happened.
Some women in our group surprised us. They had gone to the tomb early in the
morning, but did not find the body of Jesus. They came back, saying that they had seen a vision of angels who told them that he is alive. Some men from our group went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said. But they didn’t see Jesus either.
Then Jesus asked the two disciples, “Why can’t you understand? How can you be so slow to believe all that the prophets said? Didn’t you know that the Messiah would have to suffer before he was given his glory?”
Jesus then explained everything written about himself in the Scriptures, beginning with the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets.
When the two of them came near the village where they were going, Jesus seemed to be going farther. They begged him, “Stay with us! It’s already late, and the sun is going down.” So Jesus went into the house to stay with them.
After Jesus sat down to eat, he took some bread. He blessed it and broke it. Then he gave it to them. At once they knew who he was, but he disappeared. They said to each other, “When he talked with us along the road and explained the Scriptures to us, didn’t it warm our hearts?” So they got right up and returned to Jerusalem.
The two disciples found the eleven apostles and the others gathered together. And they learned from the group that the Lord was really alive and had appeared to Peter. Then the disciples from Emmaus told what happened on the road and how they knew he was the Lord when he broke the bread.
6.6 Jesus Appears to More Disciples
The disciples were afraid of the Jewish leaders, and on the evening of that same Sunday they locked themselves in a room.
While Jesus’ disciples were talking about what had happened, Jesus appeared and greeted them. They were frightened and terrified because they thought they were seeing a ghost.
He scolded them because they were too stubborn to believe the ones who had seen him after he had been raised to life.
But Jesus said, “Why are you so frightened? Why do you doubt? Look at my hands and my feet and see who I am! Touch me and find out for yourselves. Ghosts don’t have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
After Jesus said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. The disciples were so glad and amazed that they could not believe it. Jesus then asked them, “Do you have something to eat?” They gave him
a piece of baked fish. He took it and ate it as they watched.
When the disciples saw the Lord, they became very happy.
After Jesus had greeted them again, he said, “I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they will be forgiven.
But if you don’t forgive their sins, they will not be forgiven.”
6.7 Jesus Appears to Thomas
Although Thomas the Twin was one of the twelve disciples, he wasn’t with the others when Jesus appeared to them. So they told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But Thomas said, “First, I must see the nail scars in his hands and touch them with my finger. I must put my hand where the spear went into his side. I won’t believe unless I do this!”
A week later the disciples were together again. This time, Thomas was with them. Jesus came in while the doors were still locked and stood in the middle of the group. He greeted his disciples and said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands! Put your hand into my side. Stop doubting and have faith!”
Thomas replied, “You are my Lord and my God!”
Jesus said, “Thomas, do you have faith because you have seen me? The people who have faith in me without seeing me are the ones who are really blessed!”
6.8 Breakfast with Jesus
Jesus later appeared to his disciples along the shore of Lake Tiberias. Simon Peter, Thomas the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, and the brothers James and John were there, together with two other disciples. Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing!”
The others said, “We will go with you.” They went out in their boat. But they didn’t catch a thing that night.
Early the next morning Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize who he was. Jesus shouted, “Friends, have you caught anything?”
“No!” they answered.
So he told them, “Let your net down on the right side of your boat, and you will catch some fish.”
They did, and the net was so full of fish that they could not drag it up into the boat.
Jesus’ favorite disciple told Peter, “It’s the Lord!”
When Simon heard that it was the Lord, he put on the clothes that he had taken off while he was working. Then he jumped into the water. The boat was only about a hundred yards from shore. So the other disciples stayed in the boat and dragged in the net full of fish.
When the disciples got out of the boat, they saw some bread and a charcoal fire with fish on it. Jesus told his disciples, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” Simon Peter got back into the boat and dragged the net to shore. In it were one hundred fifty-three large fish, but still the net did not rip.
Jesus said, “Come and eat!” But none of the disciples dared ask who he was. They knew he was the Lord. Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave some of it to his disciples. He did the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from death.
6.9 The Key Question: Do You Love Jesus?
When Jesus and his disciples had finished eating, he asked, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than the others do?”
Simon Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know I do!”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus said.
Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you!” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus told him.
Jesus asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus had asked him three times if he loved him. So he told Jesus, “Lord, you know everything. You know I love you.”
Jesus replied, “Feed my sheep. I tell you for certain that when you were a young man, you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will hold out your hands. Then others will wrap your belt around you and lead you where you don’t want to go.”
Jesus said this to tell how Peter would die and bring honor to God. Then he said to Peter, “Follow me!”
Peter turned and saw Jesus’ favorite disciple following them. He was the same one who had sat next to Jesus at the meal and had asked, “Lord, who is going to betray you?” When Peter saw that disciple, he asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus answered, “What is it to you, if I want him to live until I return? You must follow me.” So the rumor spread among the other disciples that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say he would not die. He simply said, “What is it to you, if I want him to live until I return?”
6.10 Jesus Commissions His Disciples
Jesus’ eleven disciples went to a mountain in Galilee, where Jesus had told them to meet him. They saw him and worshiped him, but some of them doubted.
Jesus came to them and said:
I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth! Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you.
Anyone who believes me and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe me will be condemned. Everyone who believes me will be able to do wonderful things. By using my name they will force out demons, and they will speak new languages. They will handle snakes and will drink poison and not be hurt. They will also heal sick people by placing their hands on them.202
I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.
6.11 Final Instructions
For forty days after Jesus had suffered and died, he proved in many ways that he had been raised from death. He appeared to his apostles and spoke to them about God’s kingdom. While he was still with them,204 Jesus said to them, “While I was still with you, I told you that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Books of the Prophets, and in the Psalms had to happen.”
Then he helped them understand the Scriptures.
He told them:
The Scriptures say that the Messiah must suffer, then three days later he will rise from death. They also say that all people of every nation must be told in my name to turn to God, in order to be forgiven. So beginning in Jerusalem, you must tell everything that has happened. I will send you the one my Father has promised, but you must stay
in the city until you are given power from heaven.
Don’t leave Jerusalem yet. Wait here for the Father to give you the Holy Spirit, just as I told you he has promised to do. John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
While the apostles were still with Jesus, they asked him, “Lord, are you now going to give Israel its own king again?”
Jesus said to them, “You don’t need to know the time of those events that only the Father controls. But the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world.”
6.12 Jesus is Taken up to Heaven
Jesus led his disciples out to Bethany, where he raised his hands and blessed them. As he was doing this, he left and was taken up to heaven.
They could not see him, but as he went up, they kept looking up into the sky.
Suddenly two men dressed in white clothes were standing there beside them. They said, “Why are you men from Galilee standing here and looking up into the sky? Jesus has been taken to heaven.
But he will come back in the same way that you have seen him go.”
After the Lord Jesus had said these things to the disciples, he was taken back up to heaven where he sat down at the right side of God.209 After his disciples had worshiped him, they returned to
Jerusalem and were very happy. The Mount of Olives was about half a mile from Jerusalem.
They spent their time in the temple, praising God.
6.13 The Holy Spirit Fills Many
On the day of Pentecost, all the Lord’s followers were together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind! It filled the house where they were meeting. Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there. The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit let them speak.
Many religious Jews from every country in the world were living in Jerusalem. And when they heard this noise, a crowd gathered. But they were surprised, because they were hearing everything in their own languages. They were excited and amazed, and said:
Don’t all these who are speaking come from Galilee? Then why do we hear them speaking our very own languages? Some of us are from Parthia, Media, and Elam. Others are from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, parts of Libya near Cyrene, Rome, Crete, and Arabia. Some of us were born Jews, and others of us have chosen to be Jews. Yet we all hear them using our own languages to tell the wonderful things God has done.
Then the disciples left and preached everywhere.
The Lord was with them, and the miracles they worked proved that their message was true.214
Jesus did many other things. If they were all written in books, I don’t suppose there would be room enough in the whole world for all the books.
Jesus worked many other miracles for his disciples, and not all of them are written in this book. But these are written so that you will put your faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. If you have faith in him, you will have true life.