What happened after the resurrection?


We just finished celebrating the greatest miracle of the Christian faith, the day that Jesus rose from the dead winning victory over sin and death for all who would believe. Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus led his followers up to the Mount of Olives the place where significant events always seemed to happen.

The disciples must have been able to feel the significance of the moment. They asked Him if he was going to “at this time restore the kingdom to Israel” (Act 1:6). They imagined that from the Mount of Olives, He would call down legions of angels from heaven, and they would come, overthrow the Roman occupiers, and deliver the Kingdom of Israel into Jesus’ hand.


The disciples were least expecting of what happened next. Jesus was lifted up as He answered, “it is not for you to know the time or the seasons that the Father has set, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” When He had finished saying this, a cloud came and carried Him up into heaven (Acts 1:7-9).


The urgency of their assignment was made apparent by the angels’ warning to them as they stood gazing up into heaven in wonder. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus who was taken up from you will come back in the same way that you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11 paraphrased). In other words, they had better get a move on, start praying and preparing because as swiftly and unexpectedly as He left, He would also return.


In response to the angels’ warning, they left the Mount of Olives and traveled into Jerusalem, which was a short distance away. They gathered together in the upper room and began to pray in one accord for direction. The first thing that they were led to do was to choose a replacement for Judas, who was now deceased following his betrayal of the Christ. Matthias was chosen as the twelfth apostle.


For ten days leading up to Pentecost, a Jewish holiday also known as the feast of weeks, they prayed. That is when the Holy Spirit, “like a mighty rushing wind” and “tongues of fire” came to rest on each disciple. Just as Jesus promised, they began to bear witness for Jesus. Since it was a holiday in Jerusalem, there were people of every people tribe and tongue present. Miraculously, they all heard the gospel in their own languages.


Many believed. To the number of disciples, “there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). What did these new Christians do? Well, they gathered together daily to be taught by the apostles, fellowship with one another, pray, and break bread together. They would go into the temple daily to praise God with great joy in their hearts. They were in absolute awe of what God had done, and the world was in awe of them (Acts 2:43).


From here the church would explode with growth. Especially after the martyrdom of Stephen in Acts 7 and the onset of widespread persecution in Jerusalem, Christians would scatter across the empire. Guess what happened everywhere they went? Empowered by the Holy Spirit, they bore witness for Jesus wherever they found themselves, whether in Jerusalem, in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the whole known world. Having had their hearts activated by the gift of the Holy Spirit, they could not help but testify of Him in every nation.


What was happening in the first century continues to this day. The same message is being preached. Those who respond give testimony of the same Jesus. More and more come to know Him each day. The Church may not be who she was in the first century, but she is still beautiful. She is still loved by her husband, Jesus, and He is perfecting her more and more every day.

Take a moment to consider whom He might be leading you to share the gospel with today. Remember, like the first-century disciples, you are not a passive observer but rather an active participant in what He is doing to bring reconciliation to the world.