It is a strange moment in between Easter and Pentecost. The scriptures give us vague, curious, compelling, fascinating snippets of what it was like to be with the risen Christ before His ascension. Luke’s summary hooks me every time: “He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” Really? That’s all we get? That and a few vignettes?

Another curious, important anecdote is in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew has remarkably few recorded resurrection appearances. Jesus appears once to “the women,” and once to “the eleven,” who together make “the disciples” – Jesus’ sisters and brothers (28:10).

One can’t help but wonder at the contrast between the response of the women and the eleven. The women were immediately joyful and obedient, despite their fear (28:8). They “came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him” (v.9). It was a little different for the brothers. Matthew even records that “when they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them” (vv.16-18a). Some commentators prefer “hesitated,” to “doubted,” but perhaps they are just trying to be easy on the men. I would rather focus on the response than the nuance of the feeling, and just agree that we should all be more like the women.

Let’s reflect on this for a while, lest we become stuck in a moment together between the resurrection and Pentecost. We know that Christ is risen. We have faith. We have some experience and expectation (I mean, we came to church, right?). But sometimes it is as if we are experiencing Him from afar. We worship, but we hesitate. We see Him, but we don’t recognize Him (Luke 24:16). We forget that it wasn’t just Thomas who had to be shown Jesus’ hands and side (John 20:20). We long for the power of the kingdom to be evident in our midst, but where is Jesus when we need Him? We fish and catch nothing – and who is that stranger on the shore (John 21:3-4)?

I have a deep and growing conviction that the only cure for this curious case of time imprisonment is our response to the invitation of Jesus. I want to be like the women, and come to Him, but I’m praying and interceding for our Movement that when we are like the men and hesitate, He will come to us and remind us of our next step. The beauty is that we already know what He will say – and that His living presence will enliven our obedience:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

This is not just a perfunctory preamble. What Jesus is saying here is fraught with the weight of all of the hope for humanity since Genesis chapter 1. God had given us this authority, and we squandered and twisted it (Genesis 1:28-30). Jesus is the true and better Adam, the perfect Son of Man. He is worthy to break the seal and open the scroll – and we will reign on the earth as a kingdom of priests (Revelation 5:9-10). He has the authority, and we are his stewards. But the wise use of that authority and power is contingent upon our obedience to His next words.


“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them everything I have commanded you.”

God loves lost people. His kingdom breaks forth in power when the gospel of Jesus breaks new ground in hearts. I could give examples, but it is really the entirety of the Gospels and Acts. Why are almost all of Jesus’ miracles in the marketplace? Why is there always a fresh outpouring of power when the gospel reaches new regions and people groups? (Acts 2:5; 4:29; 8:4-8; 9:32-35; 10:44-45; 11:20-21; etc.)? Because God loves lost people. His power is at work in and through us when we are consumed with His heart and committed to His commission.

“And surely I am with You always, even to the very end of the age.”

It is no accident that “God with us” bookends the gospel of Matthew (1:23, 28:20) as it bookends the entirety of scripture (Genesis 3:8; Revelation 21:3). These words fulfill our hope. We don’t need to remain stuck in a moment between the resurrection and Pentecost, hesitating and/or doubting; fishing, and catching nothing; going to services but lacking in service. He is with us now through all time and into eternity. Our invitation is to become living invitations, bringing the presence and power of the risen Christ into every moment of every life that we have the opportunity to touch with the gospel.