Summary: Meaning and blessings of the ascension of Jesus.
Jesus Our Man In Heaven
Mk. 16:19, 20
INTRO.: The Christian knows we have a representative in Heaven. He speaks to the Father in our defense and the Father hears Him because of His righteousness. I John 2:1. He intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father. Rom. 8:34. He entered Heaven itself to appear for us in God’s Presence. Heb. 9:24. He is preparing a place for us and will return to take us there to be with Him, John 14:3.
The story of the ascension is the story of how He assumed His role as Intercessor. The ascension to Heaven is the last earthly event of Jesus’ ministry. It is the completion of the resurrection. He was raised, not only to renewed physical life, but to resume His Heavenly life as well. If we believe in the resurrection of Jesus, this belief leads naturally to belief in the ascension. There must be some destination beyond just the continuation of this earthly life.
This event, also recorded twice by Luke, occurred 40 days after the resurrection and ten days before the Day of Pentecost. It happened on the Mount of Olives, just a short distance east of Jerusalem.
Like many events in His life, it is full of mystery and wonder. Yet, some lessons are very clear. Some blessings come to us that could come no other way. Let us examine a few of these things:
I. Just what does the ascension of Christ mean to Him?
A. He was, after all, not the first person to whom this happened. There are a couple Old Testament characters who ascended to Heaven long before Jesus:
1. Enoch’s story is in Gen. 5:24 and the verses following. He walked with God all his life. He was great grandfather to Noah, who saved the human race. When Enoch’s work was done, he was taken up into Heaven.
2. Elijah. In II Kings 2:11, we see him taken to Heaven in a whirlwind. His work was done, his successor had been chosen.
3. Jesus had completed the work of redemption. He had selected and trained His Apostles. His work on earth is done and He is ready to go to the Father and leave His work in the hands of others.
4. His life was short but it was full and the ascension means His work was finished.
B. In John 16:7-13, Jesus promised to send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to help His disciples carry on His mission in the world.
1. In the second chapter of Acts is recorded the fulfillment of this promise. Acts 2:33.
2. By sending the Holy Spirit, He gave the Apostles their message and their power. He made it possible for the Gospel to be carried to the entire world.
3. He has empowered the Church through the centuries. We still live in the care of this Divine comforter.
4. So, by returning to the Father and sending the Holy Spirit, Jesus has expanding His ministry exponentially into all the ages.
C. John tells us Jesus lived from the beginning of eternity as the Word of God. John 1:1, 2. Jesus Himself said, “before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58. His life did not begin at Bethlehem and it will not end at Calvary or even in this ascension to Heaven.
1. The Ascension begins a new and higher form of life that will not end. He will one day return as the King of Glory and claim absolute power over all the creation.
2. He is at the right hand of the Father. A position of both honor and power.
3. His Heavenly life has resumed. Even though He continues to minister to His people on earth, He now enjoys the glory He had with the Father before the beginning of time
II. There are real blessings in this story for us:
A. This event, combined with the resurrection changed the lives of the apostles as nothing else could have. Before the resurrection, they were weak and doubting men.
1. They never again doubted the reality of the claims of Jesus. They were convinced He could carry out everything He had promised.
2. The resurrection, ascension, and the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost were the events that shaped them into evangelists willing to give the rest of their lives to the proclamation of the Gospel.
3. The result of all this was intense conviction triumphant assurance that gave these ordinary people the power to change the world by founding and expanding the Church.
4. The point: Jesus can change our lives as well if we have the same conviction about Him and assurance about His promises.
B. He promised to be present to hear and answer their prayers, wherever two or three of His people meet. Matt, 18:20