Q. Thanks for a very informative website. What did Christ do on earth during the period after his resurrection and before Pentecost? Why wasn’t He taken directly to Heaven instead of having to stay an additional 40 days?
A. The Bible doesn’t specifically address this question. What we know is that He appeared to over 500 people (1 Cor. 15:6) during the time. Acts 1:3 says that He offered many convincing proofs that He really came back to life, and spoke to them about the Kingdom of God. But that’s all we know for sure.
Forty is the Biblical number for testing, and the Lord was on Earth for forty days before being taken up into Heaven (Acts 1:3). I believe He was giving Israel that “time of testing” to allow them the opportunity to recognize the unmistakeable sign He gave them as proof that He is their Messiah. In Matt. 12:38-40 He told them that as the prophet Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so the Son of Man would spend three days and three nights in the belly of the Earth. He was speaking of His resurrection, something no one had ever done.
Of course He knew they wouldn’t accept them, but He was giving them every possible chance to do so.