Summary: Jesus goes to a very familiar place in His Ministry in order to be launched back to His Heavenly Home, reminding us of the importance of His Ascension.
“Jesus: Lifted Up!”
Were you ever at an outdoor gathering speaking with a group of friends, when one of them suddenly began to lift off of the ground and slowly ascend into the sky until they disappeared into the skies? I’m not talking about a levitation act that you can view at a magic show (or online on you tube); Those ARE TRICKS. But Jesus’ ascension was NOT a trick:
Forty days after Jesus had made many appearances after His resurrection, listen to what happened in Luke 24:50: “When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them;”
(Two things: 1. “Blessed them” in the Gr. is “Eulogeo”- speak good words, eulogy- God is THE BLESSED ONE; when you are BLESSED BY God, you are truly BLESSED! 2. Our text says they went to the area of Bethany (Acts 1 says they were on the Mount of Olives) which is a small village located 1.5-2.0 miles outside of Jerusalem on the south-eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes. The Mount has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years, and holds approximately 150,000 graves, making it central in the tradition of Jewish cemeteries. It’s the place where Jesus stood and taught, prophesied, where he went and wept over Jerusalem, and where he went to pray on the night of His betrayal.)
Jesus was lifted up to Heaven to Display VISIBLY Christ’s personal ascendancy
Luke 24:51 “While he was blessing them, (Gr. Eulogeo) he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 THEN they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed CONTINUALLY at the temple, praising God.”
I can imagine the disciples telling everyone: JESUS IS NOT DEAD! HE IS RISEN and we have SEEN HIM over the last 40 days, and now we witnessed HIM ASCENDED into heaven, way up there, until a cloud took Him from our sight!” What a contrast! Jesus had descended INTO this world as a baby, hidden microscopically within the womb of Mary, but HE ASCENDS as exalted HEAVENLY King.
“Jesus’ Ascension was THE Father’s act of withdrawing Him from His disciples’ gaze upward (a sign of exaltation) into a cloud (a sign of God’s presence). This wasn’t a form of space travel, but the next step following the Resurrection of Jesus’ return from death to the height of Glory.” (Geneva Study Bible note, p. 1655) Jesus was lifted up to heaven to display clearly and VISIBLY Christ’s personal ascendancy. No SECRET: OUR KING is on display publicly, witnessed by those who personally saw Him, and witnessed by those who believe on HIM!
Jesus’ Ascension accomplished more than just fulfilling prophecy: Ascendancy is the occupation of a position of dominant power or influence. Christ’s ascendance means His ACCESSION, the attainment or acquisition to a position of rank or POWER, typically that of monarch or president. Jesus rises to power and accesses the position of ultimate power! WHAT POWER! LORD OVER ALL. Why? Because Jesus IS THE KING, descended to the earth in order to ascend to the cross, only to descend to the grave, to ascend over death and the power of sin: Jesus has the supreme right to ascend to the throne of Heaven and to reign as King over ALL Kings and Lord above ALL LORDs. Jesus was lifted up to heaven to demonstrate that HE ALONE is to be exalted! NO ONE ELSE has ever done it!
Ephesians 1 gives us this description from Paul’s prayer for the congregation in Ephesus: 18 “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.” He has ascended to HEAVEN and but yet dwells in our hearts!
Jesus was Lifted Up to Heaven to Signify Christ’s Omnipresence; Jesus is God
Jesus was Lifted Up to Heaven to ALSO Signify Christ’s SPIRITUAL Omnipresence, and actually all of His Godly characteristics. Jesus reigns in the heavenly sanctuary of the heavenly Zion (Heb. 9:24, 12:22-24). He is forever accessible to anyone, anywhere who calls upon His name, and He is powerful to help them. The writer of Hebrews 4:16 says: Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” That is, ANY TIME!