Between the Resurrection and the Ascension :: By Rick Segoine

The forty days between the time God our Heavenly Father raised His Only Begotten Son Jesus from the dead and the moment He called Jesus to depart the earth by ascending up to heaven were an amazing forty days. John 20:1-17 tells much of the story.

That short period of time begins when Mary Magdalene, at sunrise, was the first person to go to the tomb and find it empty. Upon approach, she noticed the stone enclosing the tomb where Jesus had been laid had been rolled away.

Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put Him.”

One of the angels informed her and the other Mary who also had arrived at the tomb that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Imagine the shock but also the thrill Mary must have felt upon hearing such news about Jesus rising from the dead. Her precious Lord and Savior, whom she loved so dearly.

Mary’s heart must have been bursting with hope and excitement, and her mind certainly must have been racing as she thought to tell the other followers of Jesus all about the things she had just seen and heard.

On her way back to the others, she ran into a man on the trail whom she at first mistook for the gardener. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking He was the gardener, she said “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.” Then the man spoke her name.

“Mary,” he said, in what to her would have been a very familiar voice.

When she realized it was Jesus, we can only imagine what went through her heart and her mind and her soul.

Mary’s entire being must have leapt with truly unimaginable joy. She turned toward Him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” which means teacher.

Jesus said to Mary, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.”

“Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news; “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them about the things He had said to her (John 20).

Up to this time, none of the disciples or other followers of Jesus fully understood what it meant that in three days, Jesus would rise from the dead. The news of Jesus’ rising must at first have sounded too good to be true, mixed with excitement and hope and anticipation of seeing Him again.

The disciples and the women followers of Jesus were all gathered in a large room behind locked doors. The doors were locked due to the concern about what the Sanhedrin-led Jews who crucified Jesus might do to them. It was in this locked room where the risen Jesus first appeared to them all together. Only Thomas was missing.

Because the doors were locked, and yet there in their midst appeared Jesus, they at first thought he must have been a ghost and were frightened. Although Jesus, before the crucifixion, as written in Luke 9:22, had said to them, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised on the third day,” the disciples still were finding it hard to believe what was actually happening in that locked room.

He showed them the nail marks on His hands and feet and the spear mark on His side, and had them touch Him to show them that it was He and that He still had flesh and bones and was not a spirit or a ghost. When He saw that they were still in doubt and acting terrified, He said this: “Have you any food here?” So, they gave Him a piece of broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took and ate it in their presence.

Then, the disciples realized that it really was Jesus, and they were overjoyed.

I am thinking that overjoyed is an understatement.

It is the best description we have, perhaps, but think about the actual reality of what was happening there in that place.

In all fairness to the disciples, no one had ever seen anything like this. Though they had walked with Him and seen Him do many miracles along the way, His appearing to them, after witnessing what had been done to Him at Calvary, was miraculous and supernatural on a level that, for lack of a better term, blew their minds.

The followers of Jesus thought that they had lost Him after witnessing the brutality and seeming finality of the crucifixion. When they, the disciples and all of the women followers of Jesus, came to grips with the reality that He had indeed risen just as He told them He would do, they really began to understand who He was and who He still is, on a whole other level. They really began to fully comprehend what Jesus meant when He had said, “I and my Father are One” (John 10:30).

Then Jesus said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.”

Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures. He told them this is what is written: “The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with the power from on high” (Luke 44:44-49).

They realized that Jesus was not just the Son of Man and the Son of God but that Jesus was God, the second part of the Holy Trinity. All creation was spoken into existence through Him who appeared risen from the dead and standing in their very midst.

Jesus appeared to them again one week later when Thomas had returned. The story of Thomas is a familiar one. Jesus dispelled the doubts of Thomas by having Thomas touch the wounds, and Thomas fell on his knees and proclaimed, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).

Jesus again appeared a third time to some of His disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, where Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, and the sons of Zebedee (James and John) had been fishing during the night but had caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore and told them to cast their net on the right side of the boat (John 21:6).

The net filled to the brim with 153 fish. Then John said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” Jesus had some bread and a fire with burning coals and fish cooking on it there on the shore. He called to them, “Come and have breakfast” (John 21:7-12).

After breakfast was when Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me? Then feed my sheep” (John 21:1-17).

On day forty after the Resurrection, when He had led His disciples out to the vicinity of Bethany, He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into Heaven. Then, they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple praising God (Luke 24:50-53).

The last paragraph in the gospel book of John says that Jesus did many other things as well. “If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John21:25).

In summing up this article called “Between the Resurrection and the Ascension,” I cannot help but wonder if meeting the Lord Jesus and seeing Him face to face for the first time will fill our hearts with a similar kind of joy and amazement and wonder as Mary Magdalene felt when she met Jesus on the trail right after He had risen. I anticipate that it will be the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to each of us who is blessed with the gift of Eternal Salvation.

Whoever may read this, I pray that you will be part of God’s Forever Family. If you have not given your life to the one who gave you your life, today would be a perfect day to do that. Romans 10:9-10 is a beautiful way to begin.

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.”

Jesus, I stand in complete awe of you…

Your friend, Rick Segoine