Last week we saw that the book of Acts from beginning to end is a book about the advancement of the kingdom. Some people treat the book of Acts as if it were only relevant to a forty year period in the first century. But the kingdom didn't stop in the first century, and therefore this book's kingdom principles don't stop. There were some foundational, non-repeatable things, but the book as a whole will continue to have relevance until the Second Coming. John Calvin called Acts "the beginning of the reign of Christ, and, as it were, the renewal of the world is being depicted here."1 And verses 9-11 give us a bird's eye view of the beginning and ending of Christ's Mediatorial kingdom. Verse 9 depicts Christ ascending to His throne, and verse 11 talks of Him coming back in bodily form. And that speaks of the end of His Mediatorial reign.2 And so I want to use these three verses as part two of our introduction to this great book. And I thought what I would do is to have us put on our reporter's hats and ask the questions "what, when, where, why and how?"
When did Jesus Go Up Into Heaven?
The first question to ask is "when did Jesus go up into heaven?" Well, verse 9 says, "Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up." When was that? If this was His last day with the disciples, then we can figure it out from verse 3. Verse 3 informs us. "To whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." So it's the 40^th^ day after His resurrection. If Pentecost is 50 days from the resurrection of Christ, that means that He ascended exactly 10 days before the Giving of the Spirit. So it is forty days from the resurrection, 10 days before Pentecost. There's a significance to that. And three Sundays ago we saw that there is an incredibly precise order to all of the events from Passover to Pentecost.
I won't repeat everything that we said, but let me give you a synopsis. On the very day that the Passover lambs were marked out and consecrated for death, Jesus was anointed by Mary with a pound of fragrant spikenard, and Jesus said that this marked Him for His burial.
Then we saw that on the very day that over 250,000 lambs were being herded toward the temple to be inspected by the priests, Jesus as the Lamb of God was walking to the temple to confront the priests. He must have been walking right in the midst of those lambs on that Palm Sunday.
Then we saw that on the very night that Jesus was bound by the elders outside Jerusalem, over the brook Kidron in the garden of Gethsemane, there were elders of Israel who bound together some standing grain to be cut down the next evening. And the field where they traditionally bound the grain (in preparation for the festival of firstfruits) was also outside Jerusalem, over the brook Kidron and right next to the garden of Gethesemane, according to Alfred Edersheim.
The three hours of darkness was the time that those lambs would have been prepared for sacrifice, if they could have been. But God did not allow such preparation to happen because He wanted no competition. And the hour the first sacrifice would have been made, if it could have been made without darkness, Jesus gave up the ghost.
Of course, the earthquake tore the veil asunder in the temple and any priest who was present when the lights came on would have been able to see right into the holy of holies. To me it is no wonder that so many priests became Christians in the days following.
That evening, just before dusk, there were two events happening at the same time. The elders were cutting down the bound grain and putting it into an Omer basket at the same time and near the same place where Jesus was cut down off the cross and placed into a tomb.
The grain stayed in the Omer basket for three days and three nights and on the morning of the third day just before dawn, the priests would take the grain out of the basket, flail it and offer it up as a firstfruits offering to God. Of course, Christ was in the tomb for three days and three nights and arose some time on that Sunday morning.
But from resurrection Sunday and on, the Jews to this day count out the days with a prayer each day for fifty days leading up to Pentecost. And every day is connected to the Passover Omer basket by counting out Omer Day 1, Omer Day 2, etc.
So that brings us to ask the question: "Is there any significance to the fortieth day?" We know that there is a significance to Pentecost, which is 50 days later. But what about the fortieth day that Jesus ascended? I want to look at both the 50^th^ day and the 40^th^ day from an Old Testament perspective so that you can get a feel for how the Jews would have read these two chapters. When they came to this verse they would have said, "Oh, of course!" and the lights would have gone on as to why Christ gave these instructions and ascended on the fortieth day. We don't know the background so we don't intuitively have the lights going on.
Pentecost as it is celebrated in the Bible and in Jewish homes to this day has three significant themes to it:
- First, that it is remembering Mount Sinai. Did you realize that the original giving of the law on Mount Sinai was on Pentecost? It was the first Pentecost that they had ever celebrated and it had central significance to the feast day. From the day that Israel marched out of Egypt (during the Passover feast) till the law was given on mount Sinai was the same fifty days from the time that Christ led His own Exodus of people out of Sheol till the pouring out of the Holy Spirit? But unlike that first Pentecost when only Moses adn the elders saw God's glory, God would cause all of His saints to begin to enter into that glory and to be transformed like Moses without a veil from glory to glory. Unlike the results of that first Pentecost when only Moses and a few elders prophesied and were anointed with the Spirit, all who were in the upper room had the Spirit coming upon them. Remember the wish of Moses? Joshua is concerned because Eldad and Medad (who weren't present with Moses and the other elders) were prophecying in the camp. And he runs to Moses and said,
'Moses my lord, forbid them!' Then Moses said to him, 'Are you jealous for my sake? Oh, that all the LORD's people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!'
His wish comes true at this final Pentecost. As 2 Corinthians 3 says, that was a faint foreshadowing of the powerful working in the kingdom. He said, "For if what was passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious." Amen? It wasn't the law that passed away. The giving of the law always has been central to Pentecost and always will be central. What passed away was the weakness of the law which apart from grace can accomplish nothing. As Hebrews 8 words it, God will in the New Covenant no longer give the law simply on the outer tablets of stone. Without the Spirit that is just condemnation. He will write it on our hearts and by His personal presence will empower us love it and live it. So the first feature of every Pentecost celebration from the past to the present has been a remembrance of the giving of the law at Sinai. Only in this case it wasn't just a few who were empowered. All were empowered and gifted on the 50^th^ day after Christ's resurrection.
The second feature of Pentecost was a marriage ceremony between God and His people. In fact, in some Jewish circles, (I believe its with the Sephardic Jews) they still read a marriage covenant. And the concept of marriage gives an added dimension of significance to the glory of Pentecost.
The third feature is the reading of the book of Ruth. Every Jewish home that celebrates Shavuot or Pentecost explicitly mentions Gentiles coming into the faith.
I think that just my mentioning those three points has probably made all kinds of things click in your heads of what was going on in these first two chapters. Jews back in those days would have had a much easier time understanding exactly what Luke was trying to convey. The Old Testament celebration of Pentecost was a marvelous foreshadowing of Christ, the greater Moses, Who with unveiled face was revealing the Father, giving the Spirit, ushering us into His kingdom and empowering us to live out that kingdom life which that first generation of Israelites simply could not do.
That's the big picture context of the last chapters of the Gospels through to the second chapter of Acts. But what about the day of ascension? What about the fortieth day? If you go back to mount Sinai and you count back 10 days, it takes you to Jethro's advice being followed by Moses with regard to a decentralized ministry. You may remember how Jethro saw these long lines of people waiting to be heard by Moses, and how frustrated the people were and how tired Moses was? And Jethro told Moses that he would wear himself out and he would wear the people out by having all the people coming to him. Instead he advised Moses that if God commanded him to do so (which God later did) to delegate his powers to rulers over ten (that was the smallest number people that could form a synagogue - so rulers of tens), rulers of fifties, rulers of hundreds and rulers of thousands.
So that was the day in which the synagogue system was established and Moses empowered others to do what he to that point had been doing all by Himself. In the same way, on the fortieth day of this chapter, Christ delegates to His disciples the powers that He has been given and decentralizes the ministry. Just as Moses continued to lead, but he did so with the help of others, from this point on Christ continues to teach and to work, but He does so especially through His people by the power of the Spirit.
So the fortieth day is the day of delegation. The 50^th^ day is the day when the church sees God's glory and receives God's Spirit and is empowered for service. But the fortieth day was when Moses said to the people, "It's yours. Run with it." And Christ does the same. He gives the Great Commission of Matthew 28 on this fortieth day.
Now I have spent far more time on this first point, but I think thematically it is so important. Ascension day is not the day when Christ stops working. We saw from verse 1 that if the Gospel of Luke records what Jesus began both to do and to teach it implies that Christ continues to do and to teach. But He does so even more effectively through the multiplication of His servants.
Why did Jesus leave? Is it really to our advantage that He leave?
And that sedgeways into the second question. In fact, it gives part of the answer to the second question. Why did Jesus leave? Is it really to our advantage that He left? He said it would be in John 16:7, but the way many people interpret the book of Acts, you would never guess that there was any advantage whatsoever to Christ leaving us. In John 16:7 Jesus said,
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
Bound up in these passages are two reasons why it was to our advantage that Jesus leave. The first is that by delegation and decentralization, the church would be able to multiply in a way that would otherwise be impossible. And I talked about that some towards the end of last week's sermon.
The second reason is that the Helper could not come unless Jesus goes. Now let's think about that for a bit. The Gospels make clear that the disciples had the Spirit in some sense prior to Pentecost. In fact, no Old Testament saint could have been regenerated without the Spirit. The Spirit enabled them to do miracles and to cast out demons. John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit from his mother's womb. Yet the Gospels make it just as clear that there is some sense in which saints in the New Testament had the Spirit in a way that no one prior to Pentecost had Him. Unfortunately, many believers live as if we have no more advantage by way of the Spirit than any Old Testament believer did. Jesus left the disciples so that He could give the Holy Spirit and empower them. Let me read that verse again. John 16:7 says,
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
Verse 8 says that only as the Holy Spirit came upon them would they have power to be witnesses. So there is more than simply baptism into the body that happens in Acts 2. That is something new: baptism into the kingdom and into its power. That was something that hadn't happened before. Every believer is baptized by the Spirit into the body at conversion according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:13. But we will be seeing that in addition to baptism, there was filling, anointing, gifting, empowering, convicting, emboldening, converting and sanctifying work of the Spirit powerfully in evidence in that chapter. There were many things that were given when the Spirit was given. If the only thing that the Spirit does in our lives today is to save and sanctify us, then we are no different than Old Testament saints. There really was no advantage to Jesus leaving. So that is one extreme that we need to avoid. The other extreme can be found in the charismatic movement.
But the charismatic movement doesn't adequately explain this either. Turn with me to Luke 7:28. The context is Jesus telling the crowds about the truthfulness and greatness of John the Baptist. In verse 26 Jesus says that John was a prophet and more than a prophet. Look at verse 28. "For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." Charismatics say that what makes the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament Christian is that we all have access to spiritual gifts, whereas only a few had it in the Old Testament. Now that is a true contrast. But ev en though it is true that the distribution of gifts is far fuller in the New Testament, that doesn't really explain this verse. This verse clearly says that even the lowliest saint in the kingdom is greater than this greatest of prophets. That means that people in Acts being able to prophesy or do miracles didn't make them greater. Old Testament prophets were able to do miracles and prophesy too. Having spiritual gifts isn't what makes us greater. I don't know of any modern claim to spiritual gifts that is greater than those shown in some Old Testament prophets.
And Pentecostals might say, "Yeah, but they didn't speak in tongues in the Old Testament." Actually, at the tower of Babel, God gave the greatest manifestation of instant tongues that the world has ever seen. But besides that, our verse says that every Christian is greater than the Old Testament saints and prophets. According to 1 Corinthians 12, not every believer is given the gift of tongues. So that cannot explain it.
It might be disappointing to you, and it may be even a little bit of a let down, but every passage I have read gives us a hint as to what makes the New Covenant time so spectacular. And it is that the Spirit is our Helper in fulfilling the Great Commission. Or as Acts 1:8 words it, He gives us the power to fulfill the Great Commission. Are there gifts? Yes, but the gifts are to enable us to fulfill the Great Commission? Are there other things given? Yes. But verse 8 says that Pentecost marks the transition day to empowerment. And if every believer received this power from on high, then it implies that every believer is responsible to the Great Commission. But think about how exciting this transition would have been to this beleagured group. In the Old Testament, it didn't matter how many spiritual gifts a prophet had, or how boldly, eloquently or persistently he preached, it just seemed as if people's ears were closed up and their eyes were blind. God told Isaiah to keep on preaching, but that no one would listen or believe. There were a few exceptions. You can think of Nineveh as being a very notable exception. But think of how discouraged Moses must have been to have an entire older generation of people dying in unbelief despite seeing unbelievable miracles. Caleb and Joshua were the exception. What makes each of you greater than John the Baptist is that you have been transitioned into the time of the kingdom and into the power of the kingdom, and the resources and invincible advancement of the kingdom. Now, the passage we read didn't say that the Holy Spirit would do the work for you or instead of you. It called the Holy Spirit the Helper. We do the work and He Helps us to make that work successful. But as we step into God's kingdom purposes that are going to be unfolded in this book, we can expect to find all the resources that we need to do our jobs. Everything we do can be so blessed by the Holy Spirit that it all contributes to the advancement of the kingdom. It was to our advantage that Jesus leave, because of where He left to. And that leads to the next two questions.
What was this cloud? (Daniel 7)
The third question that I would like to ask is, "What was that cloud? And what was the purpose of this cloud which received Him out of their sight?" Verse 9 goes on to say, "He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight." It doesn't say that He went up, as if He is the active agent. The verbs make Him passive and something else active. The first phrase, "He was taken up" does not tell us by whom. But the second phrase gives something in addition: "and a cloud received Him out of their sight." The literal rendering is a cloud lifted Him up out of their sight.
This was no ordinary cloud. I believe this is the same cloud that covered Christ on the mount of transfiguration; and the same cloud which led Israel through the wilderness; and the same cloud which filled the holy of holies in the temple. I believe it was the Shekinah glory cloud. It was the presence of God and His innumerable angels.
But whether that is true or not, this clearly ties Christ's ascension in with an Old Testament passage which I want you to turn to. Please turn to Daniel 7. Daniel 7 is a marvelous prophecy of the four world empires that were to come from Daniel's day until the time of the Messiah. The lion was Babylon. The bear was Medo-Persia. The speedy leopard was Greece. And the dreadful beast mentioned in verses 7 and following is Rome. And Messiah comes during the time of that fourth beast. Verses 9-12 gives the first snapshot of Messiah, and it shows that saints are seated with him in the heavenlies. The saints who have gone before us are in heaven, but Ephesians tells us that in terms of authority, we are legally seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Daniel sees these thousands of thousands in that court room seeking vengeance as the importunate widow did. They are entering into judgment on various beastial kingdoms. Verse 12 indicates that there are other pagan beasts who continue to live even though Christ is given dominion and all authority in heaven and on earth. But I want to look at the second snapshot. Verses 13-14.
I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! [There are only two times the Son of Man is seen visibly as coming with the clouds of heaven. The first is at His ascension and the second is at His second coming. Well, this verse clearly identifies this time as being the ascension. So it says, "coming with the clouds of heaven!] He came to the Ancient of Days [Notice that little preposition. It doesn't say He came from the Ancient of Days to earth. This is Christ's coming from earth to the Ancient of Days in heaven. "He came to the Ancient of Days"] And they brought Him near before Him. [Doesn't Acts say that Jesus was lifted up? I think He was lifted up by the angels of the glory cloud. "And they brought Him near before Him"] Then [ Not 2000 years later, but "then"] to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.
How glorious! This passage says that Jesus has already received His kingdom and inherited the nations. The symbol of the cloud helps to reinforce that the ascension to His throne that Daniel 7 talks about is the same ascension that Acts talks about. And some people might object: "But then, how come we don't see instant righteousness? How come there is so much humanism around still?" Verse 12 explains. "As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time." That means that though Christ is reigning, His enemies don't disappear overnight. It's like at the conquest of Canaan. God gave the land to Joshua and to the people, but they have to work hard to possess it.
Where Christ went - to the throne
But that practically answers our fourth question that I want to ask the passage in Acts. Where did Christ go? Daniel 7 indicates that He goes to His throne to reign over the nations and to convert those nations. He is seated at the right hand of God. If that is true, then the rest of Acts ought to talk about this. And it does. I'll just give you one example. Look at Acts 2:30-31. Speaking of David, Peter says,
Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ…
Ahhh!!!! It's in the resurrection that Christ enters into the promise of sitting on David's throne. Peter is saying that He is on David's throne. How can that be? Didn't David have a physical throne? Well, there is no physical throne of David that you can find in a museum. That's not what He is talking about. Otherwise Scripture wouldn't be able to talk about later kings sitting on David's throne long after the physical throne was destroyed. He is talking about the rule over the covenant people. If you look sometime at 1 Chronicles 29:23 you will see that the throne of Solomon is called the throne of Jehovah because it symbolizes Jehovah's reign over God's people. It says, "Then Solomon sat on the throne of Jehovah as king instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him". By the way, that was a brand new throne that Solomon made, yet it was considered to be David's throne and Jehovah's throne. So David's throne is Jehovah's throne and Jehovah's throne over Israel was David's throne. That's 1 Chronicles 29:23. So He is simply talking about Christ inheriting the rule over all God's people. Acts 2:33-36 goes on to say,
Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool."' Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Where did He go? To His throne to inherit the right to take all nations. Some people are still waiting for Christ to sit on His throne and are longing for Him to rule. How exciting to know that the transition has already occurred and His heavenly presence guarantees His earthly victory.
Why do the angels stop the disciples from staring into space?
The fifth question is, "Why do the angels stop the disciples from staring into space?" "After all," someone might think, "we should have a heart and let them go through the five steps of grieving and loss. They'll be permanently damaged if you don't let them mope around through those stages!" But nope, these angels are very insensitive because they haven't read that psychology textbook yet, and heartlessly, these angels tell them to get busy. But seriously, the text says,
And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?'
Contrary to what many psychologists say, I believe that one of the best remedies for the heartache of loss is to get busy and to begin ministering to the needs of others.
Christ has given them a mandate in verse 8 which is amplified in Matthew 28, and staring up into heaven won't get that mandate done. Some people are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good. They are uselessly looking into space. Others are so earthly minded that they are of no spiritual good. But there is a balance. There is a way to be heavenly minded that makes us of immense earthly good. That is to by faith lay claim to all the resources that we have in Christ and to use those resources to worship Him and serve Him down here below.
These angels were kicking them out of the nest and telling them to get on the road.
How long will He be gone? - till all kingdom purposes are finished.
Very quickly, how long will Jesus be gone? Verse 11 says that there is coming a time when He will physically, visibly come back just as He ascended, on the clouds of heaven. I believe the answer is that HE won't come back until the church has done what He has commanded them to do. By the power of the Spirit we are to be witnesses to the end of the earth, and as Matthew 28 says, to teach all things Christ has given in the Word, to all nations, and see all nations obeying all things in that word.
Is that an impossible task? Yes it would be if all power hadn't been given to Christ in heaven and on earth. Yes it would be impossible if Christ had not promised, "Lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen." And His "Amen" meant "So be it." So let it be written, so let it be done. It would be an impossible task if He did not give us the Spirit's empowering. But praise Jesus! He has. And until the Great Commission is fulfilled, Christ will not come back. Acts 2:34 says that Jesus must remain at the right hand of the Father until all enemies are made His footstool. 1 Corinthians 15 tells us,
For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
Well the chapter goes on to say that death will be destroyed before Christ is physically on the earth because we will be caught up to be with Him in the air at the last trump in the twinkling of an eye, and then will be brought to pass the saying, death is swallowed up in victory. That's the last enemy, and it is immediately before His coming to earth. If every other enemy is put under Christ feet, is subdued prior to death, it means every other enemy is put under Christ's feet and is conquered prior to the Second Coming. Christ will not be satisified with anything short of total victory and total obedience over the totality of life. No square inch of this world can be independent of Him. As the great missionary William Carey worded it, "He must reign, till Satan has not an inch of territory."3 And it is our job by the power of the Spirit to be the savor of His victory to this world and to bring every thought into captivity to the Lord Jesus Christ. May we not shirk that duty. May we not be pietists who stare into space. But on the other hand, may we never presume to think we can do it apart from the power of the Spirit. Jesus has ascended. He is reigning. He is building His church. And we can be encouraged. Amen.
Children of God, I charge you to live in the reality of Christ's rule; to dust off pietisim and escapism and by the power of the Holy Spirit to take up the conquest of the land of Canaan. Amen.
For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order; Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.
And then notice verse 28. "Now when all things are made subject to Him [that is, to Jesus], then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all." That chapter seems to indicate that there is some sort of end to His reign. It says, "He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet." But I want you to notice two things: first, when verse 24 says that the kingdom is delivered to the Father, it implies that the kingdom continues to be intact – now under the Father's rule. So the kingdom doesn't end. It is eternal. Secondly, the kingdom is being handed over by Christ as Man – as our representative; as our Mediator. And once the last person is saved, there will be nothing more to Mediate. So the passage is only speaking of the end to the Mediatorial aspect of the kingdom that is related to reconciling all things in Christ. That does not imply that Jesus as God does not continue to reign with Father and Spirit. As the God-Man He will continue to reign forever. So this is why theologians distinguish between the Mediatorial Kingdom of Christ (which is now) and His eternal kingdom which He shares with Father and Spirit.
Turn to Matthew 13, and you will see the same distinction between the Triune God's eternal kingdom which has no beginning or end and Christ's Mediatorial Reign which started at the first coming and ends at the Second Coming. The context is several parables about the kingdom of heaven being established on earth (that's the mediatorial kingdom that's growing, growing, growing). Or another way of saying it is that it is the kingdom of the Son. For example, verse 31 says, "Another parable He put forth to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed…" and in verse 32 it grows. Verse 33 says, "Another parable He spoke to them: 'The kingdom of heaven is like leaven…'" And it grows until the whole lump is leavened. Then in verses 36-44 He explains the parable of the wheat and the tares. And we are going to start reading at verse 40.
Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Notice that up to the Second Coming it is called the kingdom of the Son of Man in verse 41, but after the Second Coming, it is called the kingdom of the Father. And there are many other passages which make such a distinction between the kingdom of the Son of Man and the eternal kingdom of the Triune God. So hopefully that helps.
Proposed Chronology of Christ's Resurrection Appearances
There is a fair bit of disagreement on some of the details, but this should be fairly close.
EASTER SUNDAY IN AND AROUND JERUSALEM
The Garden Tomb - Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene outside the tomb (Mk 16:9; Jn 20:11)
The Garden Tomb - To Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (the mother of James the Younger and Joses - Mk 16:1) as they hurry from the tomb (Mt 28:8)
The Garden Tomb - To Peter (Lk 24:34; "Cephas" in 1Co 15:5)
The Road to Emmaus - To two disciples on the Emmaus road later in the day (Mk 16:12; Lk 24:13)
The Upper Room - To the apostles in a house in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36; Jn 20:19). Thomas was absent according to John 20:24 so different that #6.
A WEEK LATER
- The Upper Room - To the eleven apostles, including Thomas in a house (Jn 20:26; possibly Mk 16:14)
OVER THE NEXT 32 DAYS IN GALILEE
To the apostles in Galilee (Mt 28:16a); Jesus appears to seven of them fishing on the Sea of Galilee (Jn 21:1)
To the apostles on a mountain, giving the Great Commission (Mt 28:16b)
To more than 500 disciples in Galilee (1Co 15:6)
To James, the brother of Jesus (1Co 15:7)
ASCENSION DAY NEAR JERUSALEM
- To the apostles on the Mount of Olives (Olivet), near Bethany, as he ascends to Heaven (Lk 24:50, Acts 1:12)
AFTER HIS ASCENSION
To Stephen as he is stoned to death in Jerusalem (Ac 7:55)
To Paul on the road to Damascus (Ac 9:3; 26:13; 1Co 15:8)
To John on the Island of Patmos (Rev 1:10)
This is an issue that has puzzled many people: there are passages that speak of Christ's rule ending or being only for a specified period of time and passages which speak of His rule never ending. How can both statements be true? For example, Luke 1:33 says, "He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." But 1 Corinthians 15:24 says, "Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father…" In fact, why don't you turn there with me. It is 1 Corinthians 15. And I want you to notice in context that the emphasis is upon Christ as Man being our representative. 1 Corinthians 15:21. ↩