In the 40 days after He resurrected from the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ appeared several times to His apostles — in their homes, on the road, by the shores of the lake . . . .
Every time, strangely, His apostles first did not recognize Him. We are told that it’s because He is transfigured — just as we, should we be so blessed, will be in “glorified bodies” when we are resurrected from the dead at the end of this world.
How precious those times must be which the apostles shared with their risen Lord.
And then, 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples that He would send them the Holy Spirit and commanded that they be His “witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
“When he had said this,
as they were looking on,
he was lifted up,
and a cloud took him from their sight.”
–Acts of the Apostles 1:8-9.
Every time I read that passage, I weep, as I imagine how wrenching it must be for the Apostles to say goodbye to their lord, master and friend forever.
This scene from Sir Peter Jackson and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings: Return of the King — of Sam, Merry and Pippin saying goodbye to Gandalf and Frodo (both Christ-like figures in their self-sacrificing love for others) forever — captures some of that gut-wrenching grief:
But of course, Jesus would not just abandon His apostles, nor us.
John 14:19, 18, 16-17
“the world will not see me anymore . . .
I will not leave you as orphans;
I will come to you.
And I will ask the Father,
and He will give you another advocate
to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth.
The world cannot accept Him,
because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.
But you know Him,
for He lives with you
and will be in you.”
Not only did the Father send us the Holy Spirit, who lives with us and will be in us, Jesus also left us His Body and Blood:
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Brothers and sisters:
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.