The gospels only hint at this passage of time. They report that first in Jerusalem and later in Galilee, Jesus encouraged his friends but we get only a glimpse of what Jesus said or did. In Acts chapter one we are given eleven short verses about the things on Jesus’ mind during those resurrection days.
Acts 1:3, however, reveals that the subject most important to Jesus during that time was the Kingdom of God. This should not surprise us. Before Jesus began his ministry, John the Baptist declared that the Kingdom of God was close at hand. In his earthly ministry Jesus himself preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Now, with just a few days remaining with his friends, the Kingdom of God is still his passion. Years later as the book of Acts closes the connection Jesus and his Kingdom is still the primary message of his followers (Acts 28:31).
Have you ever had to give last-minute instructions? Imagine you were leaving (as Jesus was) until an undetermined day of your return: what would you say? What important words could you leave with your best friends? Jesus chose to remind his friends about the message he had announced from the very beginning: the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
If the words “Kingdom of God” seem awkward when they appear after the word “gospel” perhaps it’s because in our day we have shortened the gospel to mean exclusively redemption from sin and going to heaven. The rediscovery of the gospel of the Kingdom, along with Jesus’ commission to “make disciples and teach them to obey” stand as the greatest need in the North American church today.
What will you do with your time in the forty days after the resurrection? Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God during that time. Perhaps he still wants us to embrace his teaching.
NOTE: here’s one place to start.