What the Hell Was Jesus Doing for Forty Days?

Daniel Peterson: The mysterious 40-day ministry of Jesus after Easter -  Deseret News
It’s a pity the claim that Jesus spent 40 days teaching the disciples after his resurrection didn’t result in clear guidelines for some of the major doctrinal disputes that would tear apart Christianity over the centuries, e.g. Incarnation, Trinity, Salvation, Predestination, Church leadership, etc. — Epicurus, a reader of this blog

In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying[a] with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. –Acts chapter 1:1-4

In this passage of the alleged “Word of God” we are told that after his miraculous bodily resurrection from the dead, Jesus spent forty days with his disciples “giving them instructions” and “speaking to them about the kingdom of God”.

But what specifically did Jesus tell his disciples during these forty days?

Remember, if the Gospels are correct, Jesus had come back from the dead in a supernatural (“heavenly”) body with supernatural powers, teleporting between cities and popping in and out of locked rooms. These displays of supernatural power convinced the disciples that Jesus was not just the Messiah, but God himself, at least according to the author of the Gospel of John:

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God! –John 20:26-28

Wow! God himself, the Omniscient and All Powerful, spent FORTY days with twelve men, men who would be commissioned to take God’s Good News of eternal salvation to the entire world, teaching them about “the kingdom”. But sadly, none of Jesus’ disciples bothered to write down what Jesus said during these forty days, except for one short speech on the last day, right before he lifted off into the clouds! What a lost opportunity! Imagine how the last 2,000 years would have been different if Jesus had:

–taught the disciples how to follow proper hygiene and how to make antibiotics and vaccines.

–commanded the disciples to forbid Christians from owning slaves.

–explained that demon possession is actually epileptic seizures and provided the formulation for making anti-seizure medications.

–provided instructions for good agricultural techniques to increase harvest output and thereby decrease the world’s chronic, massive, shortage of food. The lives of millions would have been saved!

But, no. Jesus obviously did not have time during his forty days with his disciples to give any of these instructions. But why? Christians will tell us that Jesus’ focus while here on earth was our spiritual health not our physical health or social well-being.

Oh well, hand washing and antibiotics will just have to wait for two millennia.

Yet, if Jesus was only focused on our spiritual well-being, why didn’t he spend those forty days writing out a doctrinal statement, clarifying very concisely and clearly the doctrines of the Trinity, justification by faith alone, the purpose of baptism, the purpose of the Lord’s Supper, his preferred church government structure. The great schisms of the Church could have been avoided! The millions of Christians killed in the wars between Catholics and Orthodox and the wars between Catholics and Protestants could have been spared agonizing, horrific deaths. But obviously Jesus didn’t have time to discuss these issues, or at least he didn’t bother to have anyone write them down. It seems, Jesus only wanted to talk about “the kingdom”.

But if Jesus spent the entire forty days talking about “the kingdom” why is it that on the fortieth day, the day when he (allegedly) ascended into heaven, this was the final question put to him by his disciples:

“Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” –Acts 1:6

What??? The kingdom of Israel??? Jesus just spent forty days entirely focused on teaching the disciples about the kingdom and these twelve guys still think Jesus is going to establish an earthly kingdom??? Good grief. Either the Twelve were the dumbest, densest human beings ever to walk planet earth or this tall tale is pure FICTION!

The standard Christian response: “God’s ways are not our ways. God works in mysterious ways. Just because Jesus’ behavior makes no sense to you, Gary, does not mean that it doesn’t make sense to God.”

Baloney!

That excuse is used by every group of theists on the planet whenever their god or gods fail to perform or their holy book’s prophecies are proven false. Hindus use it. Mormons use it. Muslims use it. Christians use it. It is a bullshit excuse. Use your brain, folks. Don’t fall for that pathetic excuse.

The above discussion is just more evidence that the Gospels and the Book of Acts are NOT reliable sources of historical information. No one should believe in a once-in-history corpse reanimation based on the inconsistent, contradictory, preposterous tales found in these five ancient texts.

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End of post.

36 thoughts on “What the Hell Was Jesus Doing for Forty Days?

  1. He had to take 40 days to prove to his friends who he was? How’d he do that? By producing his death certificate? How come they couldn’t tell who he was without all these ‘convincing proofs’? They’d just spent the last three years with him. Yet they had to be ‘convinced’ (the gospels tell us some of them definitely weren’t.)
    Unless of course this is an account of their mystical visions of him and they were convincing themselves that what they’d experienced was really him. (Spoiler: it wasn’t.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “The above discussion is just more evidence that the Gospels and the Book of Acts are NOT reliable sources of historical information. No one should believe in a once-in-history corpse reanimation based on the inconsistent, contradictory, preposterous tales found in these five ancient texts.”

    In a post-modern, affluent and educated Western society, I would have scant little expectation of anyone believing, based on the Gospels, “in a once-in-history corpse reanimation based on the inconsistent, contradictory, preposterous tales found in these five ancient texts.”

    But, then, there are clearly those that, for some odd reason, actually think the Gospels are (or should be) “reliable sources of historical information”.

    I have very serious doubts that the largely Greek-influenced culture from which the Gospels came (with the possible exception of Mark) would ever have taken the Gospels to have been “reliable sources of historical information”, but rather, would have understood them far more as poetic stories that freely and openly relied on many elements of Greek mythology to tell a story which, if reduced to nothing but literal and “scientific” nuts-and-bolts would hardly afforded reason for the reader to have believed the story at all.

    This is why “I don’t do Gospels”. In our Western, educated, post-modern, literalist-and-scientific culture, our brains have not been trained (by constant exposure to the Greek poets, the elements of myth, and the concept that “things empirical” are not “all there is”) to think past a very limited paradigm. It’s as if, in this (and other similar cultures) we have a need to see things in a “reductionist” fashion, and all the while, not grasping why we don’t find joy in the way we experience life.

    Compare the Gospels with the bare-bones, creedal “statement of the facts” found in 1 Cor 15: “Christ died because of our sins (according to the scriptures), was buried, was raised up on the third day (according to the scriptures), and was seen first by Peter, then by The Twelve”.

    Few would have any expectation of that creedal statement of “things factual” (albeit, in Greek poetic form) to persuade anyone of believing that the things claimed actually happened and are somehow relevant to the hearer. But, “persuasion” was not the function of that creedal statement.

    For one to write something persuasive to the ancient Greek culture, one had to write in a manner that would engage not only their intellect, but also their feelings and imaginations; this is what they were accustomed to. One could expect the tales of Homer to be on the Best Seller list, but one could hardly expect that an essay of “The Tensile Strength and Properties of Carbonized Steel in the Rivet-Making Process” to have garnered much interest.

    If one reads Neil DeGrasse Tyson gushing over how we are “Stardust”, and proclaiming with a strained enthusiasm that “we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that”, one can see clearly that Tyson is attempting (vainly, albeit) to somehow convey some sense of awe and wonderment about the very Universe he describes as “cold and meaningless”. Whether he knows it or not, he is taking the same approach in trying to make “The Tensile Strength of Carbonized Steel” into something worth getting excited about as the Gospel writers are taking in trying to convey something that truly is worth getting excited about. The problem that Tyson faces, though, is that while it may be true that we are “Stardust”, it is equally true that dog poop is also Stardust. On the other hand, if Jesus were raised from the dead, given a body fit for an eternal life, then it is equally true that we, too, can be raised up as such, and in this case, a bit of “gushing” by the Gospel writers still results in understatement, while Tyson’s attempts are pitiable overstatements, made as if he is trying to convince himself that something is wonderful, when he knows it’s not.

    So, yes, it’s understandable (to me, at any rate) that nobody should try to use the Gospels as “historically reliable”. It takes a Fundamentalist or one of the “Modern, Scientific Atheists” of Western culture to even think they might be.

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    1. As you are, for want of a better term, A Believer but steadfastly refuse to discuss the details of why or what you actually believe it is difficult to credit you any real degree of integrity. In fact one is wont to dismiss what you write as little more than disingenuous waffle.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. to the contrary, I have quite openly discussed what I believe.

        I’ve also noted that you have great difficulty in “figuring it out”, and will ask “are you Christodelphian” (or whatever), trying to somehow wrap your mind around what I have openly stated I believe, because apparently, what I believe isn’t something you’ve successfully found a fitting label for. (and, it appears you are quite desperate to find such a label — because it will make you comfortable).

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        1. Forgive my memory lapses. I know you have stated you are a believer, have scant regard for the gospels, but have refused to state how you arrived at this position.
          I have no real interest in labelling you, but curiosity makes me scratch my head at why an apparently intelligent person – on the surface at least – would ditch critical thinking and behave like an absolute moron when it comes to the narrative construct of Jesus of Nazareth.
          I know you have no desire whatsoever in enlightening me either, but you do make an interesting ‘case study’ all the same.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. “….ditch critical thinking and behave like an absolute moron when it comes to the narrative construct of Jesus of Nazareth.”

            Are you daft, man? I do use critical thinking when it comes to the Gospels – AND THAT’S WHY I DON’T REGARD THEM AS HISTORICALLY RELIABLE.

            It’s precisely the same reason Gary doesn’t regard them as historically reliable.

            How is it you’ve missed that point??????

            (Ahhh… but then… I now remember. You had to watch a video of Ehrman explaining why historians consider Jesus as an historical person… Before that, you were wearing your tinfoil hat, and thinking Jesus was a myth – probably because of something you read on the internet. Well, so much for “critical thinking”).

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            1. I mean you ditch critical thinking with regard your belief in the narrative construct, Jesus of Nazareth.
              I would have thought this point was obvious especially as I had already written you have scant regard for the gospels.
              I hope this is clear now as my phone does not have a function for typing in crayon?

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    2. “ In a post-modern, affluent and educated Western society, I would have scant little expectation of anyone believing, based on the Gospels…”
      What about a non post modern, poor, and uneducated country – Pakistan, or say Afganistan. They have no bias against the supernatural, and believe God communicates with humans, yet they reject the story of the resurrection.

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      1. I would expect the “general populace” of Pakistan and Afghanistan to have quite different objections to the Gospels for a variety of different reasons than people in post-modern, Western cultures would.

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    3. On the other hand, if Jesus were raised from the dead, given a body fit for an eternal life, then it is equally true that we, too, can be raised up as such

      It is a thrilling, enticing thought that death is not the end of our existence, but until you or any other Christian can provide better evidence, it is simply a pleasant delusion.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. I don’t really like the term “believe”. I say “I’m convinced”.

            But, you’ll have to wait on my book. There’s not just “one reason” I’m convinced. And, to make my case, I’d have to… well… write a book.

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            1. Imagine asking a Mormon or a Muslim: Why do you believe in Mormonism (Islam), and he or she says, “I’d have to write a book to adequately explain it”.

              Something that needs that much splainin’ is a strong indication that the evidence for it is very, very weak.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. What are you trying to twist my words for, Gary? I didn’t say a THING about “explaining” anything at all, did I?

                But – yeh, I get it. That’s what you do. And I’ve seen other people making the same complaint about you.

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                1. But, you’ll have to wait on my book. There’s not just “one reason” I’m convinced. And, to make my case, I’d have to… well… write a book.

                  If someone is going to “make a case” for what “convinces them of something” by writing a book, that is the epitome of explaining what you believe. You are very sensitive on this subject. Why? Christians should be able to give their reasons for being convinced of the bodily resurrection of Jesus in one paragraph. If they can’t, it shows the weakness of the evidence for this claim.

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                  1. Let me give you an example: Why am I convinced that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon?

                    Answer: I trust consensus expert opinion. The consensus of professional historians is that Julius Caesar did cross the Rubicon.

                    Done.

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                    1. so what???

                      in the case of Julius, I can certainly say that same thing.

                      In the case of Jesus being resurrected, I can NOT say that same thing. There IS NO CONSENSUS to trust, is there?

                      So, is the fact that “consensus” works for one thing somehow supposed to mean that “all things in life should be that simple”?

                      Try explaining gravity.

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                    2. I believe in the law of gravity because the consensus of experts says it exists. It is as simple as that.

                      Why do I believe in climate change? Answer: the overwhelming majority of experts says it is real.
                      Why do I believe that Covid is real? Answer: the overwhelming majority of experts says it is real.
                      Why do I believe that Covid vaccines are effective? Answer: the overwhelming majority of experts says they are effective.
                      Why do I believe that Anglo-Saxons invaded Great Britain? Answer: the overwhelming majority of experts say they did.
                      Why do I believe that Jesus of Nazareth existed? Answer: the overwhelming majority of experts say he did.

                      Your turn. Based on what evidence are you convinced that a first century peasant named Jesus of Nazareth was “resurrected” from the dead?

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                    3. In the case of Jesus being resurrected, I can NOT say that same thing. There IS NO CONSENSUS to trust, is there?

                      Exactly. There is no consensus of experts on the alleged resurrection of Jesus. So why are you convinced that this never heard of before or since event occurred?

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                    4. So what about other facts in life for which we cannot appeal to expert opinion. Let me give an example:

                      How do I know that my father is a nice person, or the color of his eyes, or his beliefs on politics and religion? Answer: I have many years of personal experience visually/verbally interacting with him and I can personally interview his coworkers, neighbors, and friends who have known and verbally interacted with him for many years. Can you do any of that regarding Jesus? No.

                      So let’s review:

                      You are convinced that a never heard of before or since event occurred 2,000 years ago but you are unable to appeal to majority expert opinion or to your own personal experiences with the person in question. Why should we believe that you have any good reason to believe this fantastical claim?

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  3. re: “You are convinced that a never heard of before or since event occurred 2,000 years ago but you are unable to appeal to majority expert opinion or to your own personal experiences with the person in question. Why should we believe that you have any good reason to believe this fantastical claim?”

    First, there is no “majority expert opinion” to appeal to. Which means, some believe one thing, and some believe another. This lack of “majority expert opinion”, therefore, has no effect one way or the other.

    If I was postulating something that was contrary to a broad consensus, then, that could be seen as somewhat significant. But, this is clearly not the case.

    So, we can set aside any concerns about “majority opinion” here. The lack of a majority opinion bears no weight on the veracity of my own views.

    As far as “personal experiences” goes: I might think your Dad is a very unpleasant person, that he has green eyes (at least, to me, because I’m colorblind), and he’s lying to you both about his beliefs in politics and religion (as per my own knowledge of him). So, it might be that your Dad is simply unpleasant to me, that he has green eyes because he wears tinted contacts whenever I see him, and that he is lying to me about his politics and religion.

    So, personal experience doesn’t mean squat — and you should know that. Your personal experience is not somehow more valid than mine, to me.

    Since we have now successfully dispensed of the total bullsh*t, we get to the question: “Why should we believe that you have any good reason to believe this fantastical claim?”

    You shouldn’t believe that I have any good reason to believe this fantastical claim — UNTIL YOU SEE my good reason(s).

    And, as I said earlier, you’ll need to wait for the book…

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    1. Therefore, since you cannot point to even a bare majority of historians who believe that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is an historical fact nor can you provide personal experiences of your interaction with the resurrected Jesus, there is no good reason to believe this ancient fantastical claim. We don’t need to wait for your book…

      You are unwilling to provide even a summary of the evidence for your conviction in the historical reality of this alleged event, which demonstrates to everyone that your evidence is not good…just a lot of splainin’.

      Dear Readers: If someone cannot give you a brief, concise summary of why they believe something, don’t waste your time listening to their long, drawn-out explanation (splainin’). Critical thinking on a subject does not require a book of explanations unless you are trying to give a detailed explanation of Relativity or some other complex scientific theory. You either have good evidence or you don’t, FT. Period. Put up or shut up.

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      1. oh, Gary…. really, you are SO full of it.

        Look – anybody can say (as Christian apologists often do), “I believe Jesus was resurrected because I believe that explanation best fits all the known facts”.

        So, there’s your one-liner.

        Doesn’t tell you squat, does it?

        as far as “Put up or shut up” goes, sure, I’ll “put up”. In my book. And, you’ll need to wait on it. But, rest assured – I’m not about to go divulging “trade secrets” here on this (or any other) blog. Not unless you want to PAY for it, as proprietary and copyrighted info.

        Now, if you’re interested in PAYING for my proprietary, copyrighted info, then make an offer. Put up or shut up.

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        1. “I believe Jesus was resurrected because I believe that explanation best fits all the known facts”.

          And that is the best evidence Christians have, readers. (Their non-expert evaluation of the evidence)

          Even though the majority of historians say that the evidence is insufficient to conclude that the resurrection of Jesus was a real historical event, Christians still believe it was. Why? Evidence or bias?? I suggest they are not using critical thinking skills when evaluating this claim. Their emotional attachment to this belief overrides their common sense.

          And the key here is this: What evidence are they using to make this non-expert opinion regarding an alleged event from Antiquity? Eyewitness testimony? Disputed! Would an educated person today believe disputed eyewitness testimony for a supernatural claim today? Most would not. So why believe a similar claim from 2,000 years ago??

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        2. “I believe Jesus was resurrected because I believe that explanation best fits all the known facts”.

          “I believe Mohammad really did receive the final testament from God by means of an angel in Saudi Arabia because I believe that explanation best fits all the known facts”.

          “I believe Joseph Smith really did receive the final testament from God by means of an angel in upstate New York because I believe that explanation best fits all the known facts”.

          This is why new cults pop up every couple of centuries: gullible people fail to evaluate fantastical claims using critical thinking skills but instead believe with their “hearts” (emotions).

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    2. Holy Moly

      You shouldn’t believe that I have any good reason to believe this fantastical claim — UNTIL YOU SEE my good reason(s).

      Evidence is the same for everyone whether you accept this or not.
      The character Jesus of Nazareth only appears in the gospels and as he is depicted is a work of narrative fiction – there is no evidence to support the character or his miraculous deeds. He is simply a construct.

      Bearing this in mind there cannot possibly be any reason you can put forward to justify any veracity in this character.

      Therefore you are either shamming, or your experience/reasons can at best be considered misguided based on faulty information and at worst, you are delusional.

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        1. He mentions “good reasons.”
          I raised the subject of evidence.
          I strongly suspect he is not making any sort of evidentiary claim but rather one of a personal subjective experience.
          Feelings in other words… or faith if you prefer?
          He’ll never likely divulge the details of his experience.
          I get the impression his allusion to a book is more of a play on words rather than an actual published work.

          Like

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