Q. After Jesus rose from the dead, He stuck around the region for a full 40 days before His ascension to Heaven. From what facts I can glean, He only appeared to His disciples on three occasions in that 6 week time-frame. Where, and what was He doing in between visits?
A. The Bible doesn’t record all the Lord’s activities during those 40 days, but does mention a total of 11 post-resurrection appearances to more than 500 people. He could also have been back and forth between Heaven and Earth several times but it’s clear He wasn’t ready to make His final departure until the 40 days were complete.
The number 40 often symbolized a time of testing, such as the 40 days the Israelites were left to themselves while Moses was on the mountain, the 40 years they spent in the wilderness, the 40 days Elijah was on the run from Jezebel, and the 40 days of temptation the Lord endured.
I’m of the opinion that the 40 days between the resurrection and the ascension were a final time of testing for Israel during which the Lord waited for them to heed the unmistakable sign of Jonah He had given them (Matt. 12:39-40) and accept Him as their Messiah. When they didn’t, He left and the door was opened for the Church.