Sermons

Summary: Keep On Celebrating the Lord’s Ascension 1) With a worry-free life 2) With a power-filled life

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“5, 4, 3, 2, 1…lift off!” I’ve always thought it would be cool to watch a rocket being launched into space. As the rocket would struggle to escape earth’s grip, the sound must be deafening and the ground must shake under your feet. As exciting as it would be to watch a rocket blast off from its pad, it’s not a thrill that would last very long. After a couple of minutes you would lose sight of the ship, leaving you no reason to hang around the launch pad - unless, of course, you were one of the scientists who had an experiment on board that rocket. For you and other scientists, the launch of the rocket is only the beginning of your excitement. The real fun comes when the rocket reaches its orbit and the astronauts begin conducting the experiments you’ve designed.

Although there was no smoke or the deafening sound of explosive rocket engines, Jesus’ ascension into heaven was as impressive. The disciples celebrated the event and continued to do so even after they returned from the launch pad outside Jerusalem. Like scientists who rejoice when the rocket reaches orbit because it can now do what it has been sent to do, the disciples rejoiced at Jesus’ ascension because they knew that his ascent to the right hand of God would impact their lives in a positive way. Jesus’ ascension continues to impact us in a positive way today. Let’s find out how so that we keep on celebrating the Lord’s ascension like the early disciples did.

There must be many late nights of worry for scientists preparing an experiment for a space mission. Scientists want everything to go just right because millions of dollars are being spent to make the experiment possible. If the experiment is a flop, there will be great disappointment and the years of planning will have seemed wasted. The hours that followed Jesus’ crucifixion were filled with disappointment for the disciples. They had dedicated three years of their lives to following one they thought could make a difference in Israel. But now he was dead and those who had killed Jesus would probably come after them too so the disciples huddled together behind locked doors. Had they been part of a failed “experiment”? Jesus had died, yes, but he would come back to life and the disciples should have known that. When the resurrected Jesus appeared to them he said: “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms…This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day” (Luke 24:44, 46b).

Oh, how Christians suffer needlessly when they don’t take to heart God’s Word! Those hours after Jesus’ crucifixion should have been ones of anticipation, not disappointment and fear. The disciples should have camped out at Jesus’ tomb to catch the resurrection spectacle, the way concertgoers camp out at the ticket window so they can snap up the good tickets. The disciples must have kicked themselves later for not being there to witness the angel wrenching open the empty tomb.

What part of God’s Word do we ignore and suffer as a result? For example God invites us to cast all of our anxieties on him but do we instead bottle up our concerns until we’ve managed to concoct a mean brew of apprehension that’s just as sinful and hazardous to our health as a night of excessive drinking?

What’s the remedy? How can we learn to trust God’s Word better? Jesus. After chastising the disciples for not having believed God’s Word regarding his resurrection, Luke tell us what Jesus did. “45 Then [Jesus] opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45). This was the first fulfillment of a promise Jesus had given to his disciples. Jesus had promised that after he went to heaven he would send the Holy Spirit who would open their minds to understand Scripture (John 16:13, 14). We need the Holy Spirit because as Paul explained in his first letter to the Corinthians: “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Even if you are the smartest person in the world, without the Spirit of God you still would not be able to understand or accept God’s Word – like trying to read a newspaper in a language you don’t understand.

So this is one thing that makes Jesus’ ascension worth celebrating. At his ascension, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit so that we can understand and believe God’s Word. Believing God’s promises leads to a worry-free life.

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