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Summary: An eight-point message on the importance and relevance of Jesus’ ascension.

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INTRO: An American tourist was visiting England on his summer vacation.

-As the 4th of July approached, he wondered how the British would celebrate America’s Independence Day.

-So, he asked one of his tour guides: Does England have a 4th of July? (2X)

-You can imagine the tour guide’s sarcastic reply: No, we just go from the 3rd of July to the 5th of July.

-Everybody in the world has a 4th of July--right? The only difference is: some people have a special reason to celebrate on that day, and other people don’t.

In a similar way--everybody in the world has a 21st of May. But some people have a special reason to celebrate on that day, and other people don’t.

-What about you? Do you have a special reason to celebrate on the 21st of May this year?

-Some of you are already looking at your calendars. What’s the 21st of May? (2X)

-I’ll give you a hint. The 21st of May is 40 days after Easter this year. Does that help?

-We’re in the third week of a 3-part series today, called, ENCORE. We’re studying what Jesus did between rising from the dead and returning to heaven--a 40-day period.

-Now do you know what we have to celebrate on the 21st of May? Jesus’ ascension. May 21st is Ascension Day. It falls on a Thursday, 40 days after Easter.

Let me ask you a question about your religious background: How many of you grew up in a church that annually celebrated Jesus’ Ascension (Jesus’ return to heaven)?

-I did not! In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit this, but--in almost 25 years of preaching over 1,000 sermons at CCC, I have never taught about the importance of Jesus’ ascension. Never!

-And this was the Grand Finale of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry--this was the big send off at the end of Jesus’ 40-day post-Easter encore.

-Even more importantly--Jesus’ ascension has incredible significance for our lives today. When I finished studying, this past week, all that Jesus’ ascension means for us--all that it guarantees us--I was pumped! I could hardly wait for this weekend to share this message with you.

-And it’s got eight points. (Eight! Don’t worry--I’ll have us out of here by... Tuesday!)

-OUTLINE. Lots of Scripture verses--some we’ll look up, many we won’t. Write them down. (Do you have notebook yet for your outlines?)

#1 He Is Exalted As God

TURN: Hebrews 1.

-As you’re turning... Let me make an interesting observation. Each of the Christian holidays that we celebrate, leave us with a distinct image of Jesus.

-For example--when you think about Christmas, what image of Jesus comes to your mind? The baby in the manger, right? He may be the Son of God--but he’s tiny and helpless, and occasionally Mary needs to change his diaper. That’s the Jesus of Christmas.

-OK. What about the Jesus of Easter weekend--starting with Good Friday. What image of Jesus comes to mind when you think about Good Friday? A Jesus who is nailed to a cross--suffering, dying, calling out "I thirst" and "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"

-What about the Jesus of Easter day? What’s your image? He’s been supernaturally raised from the dead--but he’s still a man, right? Maybe he glows a bit--I don’t know--but he still looks a lot like the Jesus that his disciples had followed for three years.

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