During the forty days after His crucifixion, [Jesus] appeared to the apostles . . . and He proved to them in many ways that He was actually alive. And He talked to them about the kingdom of God (v.3).
Forty is a significant number in the Bible. The great flood of Genesis was the result of 40 days of rain (Genesis 7:4). Moses was with God for 40 days receiving the Law (Exodus 24:18). Spies explored the land for 40 days (Numbers 13:25). The Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years (32:13). Jonah warned of judgment in 40 days (Jonah 3:4). Jesus was tempted for 40 days as He began His ministry (Luke 4:2), and He appeared to the disciples for 40 days as He concluded it (Acts 1:3). So one Bible teacher suggests that when you see the number 40 in Scripture, it means that God is doing something significant.
Jesus didn’t return to heaven immediately after His resurrection. What did He do in His last 40 days on earth?
• He continued to teach God’s Word,“giving His chosen apostles further instructions” (v.2). Teaching God’s Word remained Jesus’ priority.
• He “proved to them . . . that He was actually alive”(v.3). On Easter Sunday, He appeared to Mary Magdalene (Matthew 28:1-9), the two disciples on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-35), and to 10 disciples (vv.36-43). A week after, He appeared to the 11 disciples (John 20:26-32) and several disciples by the Sea of Galilee (21:1-25). Paul wrote of six other appearances, once to more than 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:5-8).
• He “talked to them about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). He affirmed His disciples’ expectation of a literal physical kingdom on earth. But He corrected their preoccupation on the timing of the kingdom (vv.6-7).
• He commanded His disciples to be His witnesses, “telling people about me everywhere” (v.8).
Just as Jesus prepared for His ministry for 40 days (Luke 4:2), so for 40 days the risen Jesus prepared His followers for theirs. He wanted His disciples to tell people everywhere about Him.
Read John 21:1-19 to see how Jesus prepared Peter for ministry.
What does it mean for you to be a witness for Jesus? (Acts 1:8). Who can you tell about Jesus this week?