Scriptures

The Ascension Of Christ

Introduction

‘When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.’ Luke 24:50-51

‘After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.’ Acts 1:9

After Jesus told His disciples they would be witnesses, and they would receive the Holy Spirit with power in Jerusalem, He leads them to somewhere near Bethany, Mount Olivet, Acts 1:12, which is east of Jerusalem, where He blessed them, it was then that He was taken up into heaven. This happened ten days before the first Pentecost after the resurrection.

His new resurrected body was raised up into heaven so that He could assume His authority, Daniel 7:13-14 / Ephesians 1:20-22 / Philippians 2:9-11. Jesus is now at the right hand of God as King of kings and Lord of lords, 1 Timothy 6:15, He is now reigning over all things, Ephesians 1:22-23 / 1 Peter 3:22. And He will continue to reign until the last enemy, death, has been conquered, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.

Notice that Jesus was taken up ‘before their very eyes,’ Why? Simply because they had to witness this to further establish their faith in Christ and when they were sharing the Gospel, they could tell people that what they had witnessed was real and not some made up story. We must remember there had been at least ten appearances of Jesus to His disciples after His resurrection, but this was to be an event they would never forget in a hurry.

Luke tells us that a cloud hid Jesus from the disciple’s sight, Daniel 7:13-14 / Psalm 68:18 / Psalm 110:1 / Mark 16:19 / Luke 23:43 / John 20:17 / Hebrews 4:14 / Hebrews 9:24 / 1 Peter 3:22.

When we think about, there were clouds involved at His transfiguration, Matthew 17:5, Jesus speaks about His coming ‘in the clouds of heaven’, Mark 14:62, and when we read the Old Testament we read about a cloud being visible to let the Israelites know that the glory of God was present at the tent of meeting, Exodus 40:34.

‘They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’ Acts 1:10-11

The Two Men

There’s no doubt that these two men were angels dressed in white clothing, Matthew 28:3 / Mark 16:5 / Luke 24:4 / John 20:12.

The Question

The angels ask the disciples, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky?’ This to me is one of the most unfair questions we find in the Scriptures, think about it! If you were there and witnessed someone ascending into the heavens, wouldn’t you be amazed and just stand there looking up?

Notice that the angels tells them that ‘This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’

If this doesn’t tell us about how He will return, I don’t know what will, there’s no secret or invisible return of Christ mentioned here or anywhere in the Scriptures. He left in the clouds and He will return in the clouds, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

‘Coming in the clouds’ is simply judgment talk which speaks of God coming in judgement on people or a nation, Matthew 24:30 / 1 Thessalonians 4:17 / Revelation 1:7.

The reasons the angels asked the question wasn’t to rebuke them but to remind them that there are more important things to be getting on with, specifically they had to get on with the great commission, Matthew 28:19-20 / Mark 16:15 and wait on the promised Holy Spirit from the Father to come upon them with power, Luke 24:49 / Acts 1:8.

‘Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.’ Luke 24:52-53

Notice that the disciples worshipped Him, this would simply be the natural response to witnesses who saw the Lord going up into heaven. If they didn’t believe He was the Messiah, the Christ, if they didn’t believe He was Deity, up to this point, they certainly would have after witnessing His ascension.

Why did they return to Jerusalem?

Simply because this is what Jesus commanded them to do, Luke 24:49 / Acts 1:4, He commanded them to stay in Jerusalem until they had received the promise, the Holy Spirit with power Acts 1:5.

Although Jesus brought an end to all the temple ceremonies and traditions, the disciples go back to the temple to praise God, why? Possibly out of habit or possibly because that’s where a great number of people would be gathered, and this could be an opportunity to the share Gospel with others. Remember the temple is still standing at this point and wouldn’t be destroyed until 70 A.D.

Conclusion

When we read the account of Jesus’ ascension, we read it like this was a common everyday event. I can imagine the disciples being a little frightened, whilst being in complete awe as they witness their Master being raised into the sky.

This would have been incredible to see and I’m sure we would speak about it all the days of our lives, to anyone who would listen.

When Jesus returns it will be personal, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, it will be visible, 1 John 3:2, it will be audible, 1 Thessalonians 4:16 / 1 Corinthians 15:22, it will be communal, 1 Thessalonians 4:14 / Matthew 16:27 / 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7, it will be final, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.

The question we all need to ask ourselves, whether we’re Christians or not is simply this, are we ready for His return?

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."

Colossians 3:23

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