Summary: As we end this easter season - we remember that there is more to the story than just easter - there is the second coming!
Concordia Lutheran Church
Sunday after the Ascension, May 16, 2010
Let us Rejoice… He is Returning!
† IN JESUS NAME †
Dear friends, take confidence in this, that the God of peace will sanctify you completely, and His grace will keep you whole spirit, soul and body blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the God who has called you is faithful, He will surely do it!
Uhm… Why are you standing here?
As we look at the scenes that open the book of the Acts of the Apostles, a question pops into my mind.
How long would the apostles have stood there, gazing up into heaven?
A couple of hours? A day? A week? Until it rained? If the two men in white hadn’t come along, how long would they have stayed there on Olivet?
Jesus had ascended right before their eyes, having shared again with them the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He shared with them that they would be His witnesses from Jerusalem out to the furthest places on the globe, and in time.
Yet the most important piece of information that is recorded that day doesn’t come from Jesus. The thing that will see the Apostles return to the city of Jerusalem is uttered by the two men in white robes. The most important words for us to hear this day, are these.
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
It is those words, which I believe has them leave the spot where they were standing, gazing into heaven, trying to understand what they have seen. According to Luke’s gospel, they return to the city rejoicing and worshipping Him, and praising God.
Hava Negilah ! Let us Rejoice! He has Risen! And He has Ascended, and He will come again!
Not the End…yet!
It’s not what he began to do and teach
It’s not about who He proved to be
The Great Commission is there..yet it’s not about that..
It’s not even the Ascension!
In many Bibles today, the words of Jesus are printed in red ink. This is to set them apart as His words. Yet it is my contention that for us, in this day, it is not verses 4 and 5, or 7 and 8, that are the most crucial for us to grasp this day. Don’t mishear me, we need to hear all the passage, and understand it. But what is crucial is verse 11, the message that He is returning. For in that concept, the other verses find their context, their and their importance. Let me explain…
In verse 1, Luke introduces this second book, the second part of the story. He describes the previous book, what we call the gospel of Luke, saying it describes what Jesus began to do and teach. It seems a little odd, at first, to consider that the gospel discusses only the beginnings of Christ’s ministry, the beginning of His work. Yet, as we look through scripture, we realize that we are Christ’s work, the church, the new creation of Christ, and that which is discussed in Phillippians 1 this way,
6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (ESV)
The work of Christ is completed that day, in His return for His people. The work begins in Creation, and then in His incarnation, His birth. It continues through His life and teaching that His kingdom is established. His work continues through the cross and the grave, and in His ascension, God is not quite finished. He will be our advocate, the one who pleads our case before the Father in Heaven, while His Spirit is sent to comfort us, and to give us the gifts and callings He wishes us to have.
Luke will then describe that Christ rose from the grave, and proved to the apostles and the disciples that He was alive –despite dying before their eyes. Paul describes it this way,
“Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say. 4 He was buried, and three days later he was raised to life, as the Scriptures say. 5 Christ appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. 6 After this, he appeared to more than five hundred other followers. Most of them are still alive, but some have died. 7 He also appeared to James, and then to all of the apostles. “ 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 (CEV)
In other words, Hava Negilah - Let us Rejoice – for He is Risen!
Yet as important as the resurrection is, there is something more here.