Hundreds See Him Prior to Pentecost
MATTHEW 28:16-20 LUKE 24:50-52 ACTS 1:1-12; 2:1-4
JESUS APPEARS TO MANY
HE ASCENDS TO HEAVEN
JESUS POURS OUT HOLY SPIRIT ON 120 DISCIPLES
After Jesus’ resurrection, he arranges for his 11 apostles to meet him at a mountain in Galilee. Other disciples are there too, about 500 of them, some of whom initially have doubts. (Matthew 28:17; 1 Corinthians 15:6) But what Jesus now says helps to convince each one of them that he truly is alive.
Jesus explains that God has given him all authority in heaven and on earth. “Go, therefore,” Jesus urges them, “and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Yes, not only is Jesus alive but he is still interested in having the good news preached.
All of Jesus’ followers—men, women, and children—receive this same commission to make disciples. Opposers may try to stop their preaching and teaching, yet Jesus assures them: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” What does that mean for his followers? He tells them: “Look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” Jesus does not say that all who share in preaching the good news will be enabled to do miraculous works. Still, they will have the backing of holy spirit.
Altogether, Jesus appears to his disciples “throughout 40 days” after his resurrection. He materializes various bodies and shows “himself alive to them by many convincing proofs,” instructing them “about the Kingdom of God.”—Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:7.
Evidently while the apostles are still in Galilee, Jesus directs them to return to Jerusalem. When meeting with them in the city, he says: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but keep waiting for what the Father has promised, about which you heard from me; for John, indeed, baptized with water, but you will be baptized with holy spirit not many days after this.”—Acts 1:4, 5.
Later Jesus meets again with his apostles. He leads “them out as far as Bethany,” which is on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. (Luke 24:50) Despite everything that Jesus has told them about his departure, they still believe that in some way his Kingdom will be on earth.—Luke 22:16, 18, 30; John 14:2, 3.
The apostles ask Jesus: “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” He simply replies: “It does not belong to you to know the times or seasons that the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction.” Then, stressing again the work they must do, he says: “You will receive power when the holy spirit comes upon you, and you will be witnesses of me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the most distant part of the earth.”—Acts 1:6-8.
The apostles are on the Mount of Olives with the resurrected Jesus when he begins to rise heavenward. Soon a cloud obscures him from their sight. After his resurrection, Jesus had materialized fleshly bodies. But now Jesus dematerializes the body he used on this occasion, and he ascends to heaven as a spirit creature. (1 Corinthians 15:44, 50; 1 Peter 3:18) As the faithful apostles are gazing after him, “two men in white garments” appear beside them. These are materialized angels, who ask: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who was taken up from you into the sky will come in the same manner as you have seen him going into the sky.”—Acts 1:10, 11.
Jesus left the earth without public fanfare, his faithful followers being the only observers. He will return “in the same manner”—without public fanfare, with only his faithful followers discerning his presence in Kingdom power.
The apostles return to Jerusalem. During the following days, they gather with other disciples, including “Mary the mother of Jesus and . . . his brothers.” (Acts 1:14) This group persist in prayer. One subject of prayer is the choosing of a disciple to replace Judas Iscariot and thus restore the apostolic number to 12. (Matthew 19:28) They want a disciple who has witnessed Jesus’ activities and his resurrection. For the last time mentioned in the Bible, lots are cast to determine God’s will. (Psalm 109:8; Proverbs 16:33) Matthias, who may have been one of the 70 whom Jesus sent out, is selected and “counted along with the 11 apostles.”—Acts 1:26.
Ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven, the Jewish Festival of Pentecost 33 C.E. takes place. About 120 of the disciples are assembled in an upper room in Jerusalem. Suddenly, a noise just like that of a rushing stiff breeze fills the whole house. Tongues as if of fire become visible, one upon each of those present. The disciples all begin to speak in different languages. This is the outpouring of the holy spirit that Jesus had promised!—John 14:26.