After the Resurrection: What Was Jesus’ Ministry Like?
Little is talked about Jesus’ ministry 40 days after His resurrection. What lessons can we glean from what Jesus said and did before His ascension?
By Dr Leong Siang Nuan
Jesus has risen… what next?
We often overlook Jesus’ life ‘post-Easter.’ Did you know He continued to minister for nearly six weeks after He rose again? Take a look at what Jesus said and did before passing the baton to His disciples for continued ministry.
A ‘suffering’ Messiah was difficult for the Jews to grasp since they anticipated a strong military leader, a political redeemer. Many of Jesus’ disciples were sad and downcast when He did not rescue Israel politically but was crucified instead (Luke 24:21). It seemed like an altogether tragic ending.
On the third day after the crucifixion, two such followers journeyed with the resurrected Jesus to Emmaus, not recognizing Him. Instead of revealing His identity, Jesus walked with them and answered their questions about how Christ needed to suffer before entering His glory.
Many of Jesus’ disciples were sad and downcast when He did not rescue Israel politically but was crucified instead.
The two disciples invited this ‘intriguing stranger’ to stay for dinner, and in a seemingly inconspicuous way, Jesus took bread, blessed it, and broke it – mirroring how His body was broken for the world just two days prior. Their eyes were “instantly opened,” and they recognized Him. Instead of remaining downcast, they immediately returned to Jerusalem to share the good news with the disciples!
Jesus, “the King of the Jews,” was sentenced by Rome for insurrection. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples and friends, feared being associated with Jesus and denied knowing Him three times during the Sanhedrin trial. Peter fled from the scene and eventually returned to his old trade of fishing, taking other disciples with him.
These professional fishermen caught no fish one night. Yet the resurrected Jesus came and enabled them to tow in a net full of fish – 153 in all (John 21:1-8). This episode was a déjà vu moment from three years back when Jesus first called Peter to be a fisher of men, and he immediately left his net to follow Jesus (Luke 5:1-11).
Jesus met Peter once again on the shores of the Galilee and asked him this question three times, “Do you truly love me…?” In the conversation that ensued, Jesus lovingly delivered Peter out of the debilitating guilt of a threefold betrayal and restored him to the ministry.
Peter’s past would not disqualify him from God’s grace.
Jesus’ reinstatement of Peter also rid Peter of his sense of insecurity. In the Gospels, Peter is depicted to be in competition with John (John 20:3-8; 21:20-23) and seemed to be measuring himself against ‘the teacher’s pet.’
However, Jesus made it clear: He had a unique destiny for Peter, and Peter’s past would not disqualify him from God’s grace. Jesus’ forgiveness spurred Peter to realign his life goals, and Peter arose to shepherd the early church after Jesus’ ascension.
The odds were stacked against the followers of Jesus – they were hated by the religious elite and labeled troublemakers by Rome.
The disciples expressed hope of a nationalistic revival in Israel when they met the resurrected Jesus (Acts 1:6).
To their surprise, Jesus commissioned them to be His witnesses to all nations, including the hostile people of Samaria and their Gentile enemies who were not part of the Jews’ faith equation (Luke 24:45-48; Acts 1:8; 26:22-23).
The Great Commission required them to forsake their nationalistic aims and serve the nations. This was a brand-new mindset for the disciples and ran against the likings of human nature which prefers self-exaltation. But to be effective witnesses for Jesus, they needed to embrace the mode of Jesus’ mission in which the cross is the centerpiece.
This was a brand-new mindset for the disciples and ran against the likings of human nature which prefers self-exaltation.
Jesus’ first words to His disciples were “Peace be to you!” (Luke 24:36) Christ had conquered death and would never leave them or forsake them. Therefore, He wanted to help them overcome their human limitations and walk in His same confidence and authority.
Jesus reiterated the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit that would come after His ascent (Acts 1:8). After receiving the Spirit’s infilling, the disciples were set free from fear to fearlessness. Many disciples even became bold martyrs for the faith – Peter included.
From being insecure disciples who strove for positions of power (Mark 9:33-35; 10:35-45) and deserted Jesus (John 18:15-17, 25-27; Mark 14:27-31), they became powerful faith warriors, rooted in the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus. The impact of their Spirit-led ministries still impacts us today.
As a child of God, you are also a disciple of Christ. Today, do you feel downcast, fearful, powerless, or insecure? Do you believe the resurrected Jesus can encounter you in your life’s situation and bring about a similar transformation as He did in Peter and the rest of the disciples?
He desires to walk with you, restore you, give you a new purpose, and empower you with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus has risen, and He’s alive with us today! He desires to walk with you, restore you, give you a new purpose, and empower you with the Holy Spirit. Even if the odds looked stacked against you, you are not alone – “…the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you.” (Romans 8:11)
About the Author
Dr Leong Siang Nuan is a senior lecturer in the School of Theology (Chinese), TCA College. She attained her PhD in New Testament and Christian Origins at the University of Edinburgh. She teaches Hermeneutics; New Testament and related historical social contexts; Biblical Greek; and Christian Ethics, among other subjects.
Reflect & Respond
Can you relate to how the disciples felt after Jesus' crucifixion? How do you think Jesus would have encouraged you?
What stands out the most to you about Jesus' post-Resurrection ministry? How does this inspire you to draw closer to Him?
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