For this week’s installment of Monday Morning Scripture, we’ll do something slightly different. Over the last week, you’ve probably had many opportunities to hear and read the Biblical account of Easter week and Jesus’ resurrection. But the Gospel accounts aren’t quite finished yet!
So what’s left for the Gospels to tell after recounting Christ’s resurrection? Each of the four Gospels includes a brief postlude to the Easter story. These postludes together form a bridge to the book of Acts, which describes Jesus’ final days on Earth before turning to the story of the early Christian church. Let’s take a look.
The book of Matthew wraps up shortly after the resurrection. Here’s the entirety of Matthew’s post-resurrection account:
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” — Matthew 28:16-20 (CEB)
The book of Mark is similarly brief in discussing Jesus’ words and actions after Easter. Like Matthew above, Mark concludes with Jesus’ final command to his followers, known as the “Great Commission” (although as noted in the text, some of the earliest Bible manuscripts don’t include this postlude):
Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs. — Mark 16:14-20 (ESV)
The gospel of Luke spends just a few words on Jesus’ ascent to heaven some time after Easter. Speaking to his disciples, Jesus says:
“I’m sending you what my Father promised. Wait here in the city until you receive power from heaven.”
Then Jesus took them to a place near Bethany. There he raised his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken to heaven.
The disciples worshiped him and were overjoyed as they went back to Jerusalem. They were always in the temple, where they praised God. — Luke 24:49-53 (GW)
The book of John goes into more detail, relating a powerful story about Jesus’ meeting with Peter (the disciple who, out of fear for his own life, denied knowing Jesus three times during the events of Easter). Here’s the key exchange from that story:
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” — from John 21 (NIV)
The gospel of John then concludes:
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. — John 21:25 (NIV)
It would be wonderful to know more about those “many other things,” but until we can meet with the risen Lord face-to-face, we have the four Gospel accounts to rely on. The first chapter of Acts contains the final details we know about Christ’s activities after the resurrection; if you’ve been reading through the Gospels during Lent and want to continue, the book of Acts is a natural next step!
Next week, Monday Morning Scripture will resume its regular form, highlighting a single interesting Scripture passage for your reflection. Until then, we wish you a pleasant week of reflection on what Jesus’ resurrection means for you today!