Summary: Celebrating the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven after His ministry on earth was through. This is kind of a forgotten or at least overlooked event in the story of salvation. Let's not forget ...
This past Thursday was Ascension Day.
The 40th day after the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day He was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen.
“After His suffering, He presented Himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
“On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command:
“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift My Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
“Then they gathered around Him and asked Him, ‘Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’
“He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority.’
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
“After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. 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.”
“Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying.”
What an amazing story! And, that is just the end of a crucial segment of an amazing story that started before the foundation of the earth!
Let’s take a look at a few verses ….
“After His suffering, [Jesus] presented Himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”
After His suffering - they knew all about Jesus’ suffering:
The agony in the Garden of Gethsemane
The multiple “trials”
The beatings that took place in several of the locations
Blindfolded beatings with mockery
Crown of thorns
The scourging that left Him almost unrecognizable
Carrying the cross to Calvary
Because of the brutality of all of this it was almost impossible for even His closest followers to believe He was alive. They knew that He did not survive, so, how could He be alive?
In those days they had more of a belief in spirits wandering around and interacting with humans than we do today. And, some of the activities of Jesus seemed to promote that He was just a spirit and not a resurrected human body!
For instance ... Jesus “appears” in locked rooms …
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’”
“A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’”
Jesus disguises Himself
“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing Him.”
He tells them where to fish
“[Jesus] said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.”
So, with all of these incredible events He really did need some convincing proofs that He was and is alive and that’s what He gave them!
He ate with them
He showed His wounds to them
He taught them
He appeared to over 500 of them at one time!
He fed them
Jesus is alive …
Now, that’s great news Jesus … but …
“Then they gathered around [Jesus] and asked Him, ‘Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’”
Did you ever miss seeing something great because you were looking the wrong way?
Now, Jesus had just finished saying, “You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” And instead of saying, “what does that mean?” or “how will that happen?” or even, “wow, that’s great!” they go back to their old tired out question …