In Acts 1:3 Luke records that, “Jesus presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to his apostles during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.” John Piper notes that in those forty days Jesus accomplished five personal goals.
- That his body was new and indestructible. Jesus just didn’t just raise from the dead. He was resurrected. During his ministry Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and Jairus daughter as well. When Jesus died on the cross Matthew records that many holy people rose from their tombs. These people did not come back from the dead in a resurrected body. They died again. They got sick again. The resurrected body of Jesus would never die again or know sickness.
- That his death for sinners was validated. Luke records that Jesus again spoke about the Kingdom of God. (I wonder if what Jesus taught in those forty days we see played out in the writings of Peter and John? Say, for example, when Peter talks about Jesus visiting the prisoners in his letter?) No doubt Jesus talked about how his death enabled all people to be reconciled with him. He talked about his death was a sacrifice for the sins of mankind, reaffirming what he taught at the Last Supper and other times.
- That his teaching was true. Jesus teaching was revolutionary for His day. The first shall be last. The Kingdom of God belongs to sinners. God came to earth to bless the sick and not the healthy. Everything Jesus taught hinged on the reality of the Resurrection. Without this event Jesus’ teaching would be false and his death for naught.
- That his fellowship would be permanent. We take for granted today the idea that Jesus is always with us. This was not believed to be so in Bible times. God rested in the Holy of Holies in the temple, not in human hearts. The resurrection tells us that God has the power to be with us always. Psalm 16 comes to life in the resurrected Christ, “The LORD is at my right hand that I might not be shaken.”
- And that his cause would triumph over the world. Jesus conquered the greatest foe we have, death. Hugo Chavuez (sp), the now deceased dictator of Venezuela said on his death bed, “I don’t want to die.” If he knew Christ he would not have to say that. He could’ve said, “Today I live forever!” A Christian can say that because of the resurrection of Jesus.
Because of what Jesus did we can pursue the same gladness (As John Piper puts it) or joy that Jesus did. Jesus pursued the gladness he knew all too well in God. He endured the cross for the joy set before him, being at the right side of His father, God. Our greatest joy, our greatest satisfaction in life, comes from knowing God, being reconciled to him. This is why God has set eternity in our heart. Our restless hearts can only find satisfaction in God! Thank God for the death and resurrection of Jesus that reconciles all men to God.