Summary: The ascension of Jesus is just a continuation of His resurrection, & one is lacking without the other.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. Very few of us ever enjoy the luxury of coming to the end of even our most productive day & saying, "It is finished. I’m through. I’ve accomplished everything I set out to do today."
Instead, most of us have a long list of things we hope to get done someday. Maybe it is a garage you intended to clean out last fall. But spring has come & now you need to mow the lawn & work in the garden.
Very seldom can we just sit back, fold our arms, & say, "I’ve finished everything that I wanted to do."
B. But Jesus could do that. Jesus could say, "It is finished. I have done everything that God wanted me to do."
In the wilderness He conquered sin. On the cross He conquered death. In the grave He conquered hell. And now in space, as He ascends to the Father, He has conquered Satan himself.
Behind Him is the persecution of men. Before Him is the applause of angels. Behind Him is a cross. Before Him there is a crown. Behind Him is Calvary. Before Him is all of heaven’s glory.
C. The ascension of Jesus is just a continuation of His resurrection, & one is lacking without the other. But the ascension of Jesus is not the only ascension recorded in the Bible. Both Enoch of old & the prophet Elijah ascended directly to heaven as well. But Enoch & Elijah never died.
ILL. I like the story about a Sunday School child who was telling the story of Enoch. She said, "Well, one day God & Enoch were just walking along together, & it came close to the end of the day. And God turned to Enoch & said, `We’re closer to my house than to yours. So why don’t you just go home with me?’" It may have happened just like that.
D. But the ascension of Jesus is unique. Jesus really did die on the cross, & He was buried in the tomb. He was physically raised from the dead, & He really ascended to be with God.
PROP. As we think about the ascension this morning, I would like for us to consider 3 things. The first would be why Jesus remained for 40 days on earth between His resurrection & His ascension.
The second would be the difference between the flesh & the spirit.
The third would be the question, "Is this fact or is it fiction?"
I. WHY DID JESUS REMAIN FOR 40 DAYS ON THE EARTH?
A. First of all, "Why? Why did Jesus remain those 40 days on the earth following His resurrection? Hadn’t men hurt Him enough? Why would He stick around? And why 40 days?"
The number 40 seems to be special in scripture. It rained for 40 days in Noah’s flood. The 12 spies were in Canaan for 40 days. For 40 years the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days & 40 nights. And now He spends 40 more days on earth following His resurrection. Is there some connection there? I don’t know.
B. But I am sure that one goal Jesus had in spending those 40 days after His resurrection was to finish teaching the apostles.
He had tried to teach them again & again what was going to happen. He had told them, "I’m going to die in Jerusalem. I’m going to be buried, & on the third day be raised from the dead."
And the apostles did the same thing that you & I do every time we hear talk of death, they tried to ignore it. They pretended it wasn’t there.
When Jesus said, "I’m going to Jerusalem," Peter said, "No, Lord, don’t go there." Then Jesus said to him, "Get thee behind me, Satan. And He set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem."
He needed to complete the journey God had sent Him on - to go to the cross & die for our sins. So He went, & all the way He is teaching them this lesson.
On the last night of His life He takes them into the upper room. He breaks bread & speaks of His broken body. He shares with them the fruit of the vine, & speaks of His shed blood.
C. But when Jesus died on the cross & was buried in the tomb, His followers were completely devastated because they had forgotten what Jesus said. They forgot even though He had told them repeatedly.
The tomb was empty. And even then they did not believe. It was not until they saw Him, Mary, the women, Peter, John, the apostles, 500 at once. Again & again He appeared unto them. He said to them, "Look at me. Touch me. Know that I am alive & I have done everything I promised I would do."