Summary: Jesus gave his disciples a new sense of purpose, a new sense of joy, at his ascension.
Luke 24:44-53: ON CHRIST’S ASCENSION, FIND YOUR PURPOSE, AND FIND YOUR JOY
In our country, and really all over the world, sports are a big thing. People like to be on teams – baseball teams, basketball teams. And if you’re on a team that’s winning, it’s even better. As your team heads for the championship, and you’re a part of it, you feel a sense of purpose – there’s a goal you’re striving for. And if you achieve that goal and win, you feel a sense of joy.
But, there’s a letdown after everything is over. The celebrating is over, the season is over, and that’s it. That sense of purpose and joy you had before – it’s gone. Now you’re going to have to find something else to do, something else that gives you a sense of purpose and joy.
That’s true not just in sports, but in just about everything we do in this world. We all want to have a sense of purpose in our lives. And we all want to have something that gives us joy. Sports can provide that, but only for a little while. Some people like to dive into home improvement projects, and that works too, but only for awhile. Hobbies are good, but the purpose and the joy they bring to us lasts only a little while too.
Today, I want to show you where you can find a sense of purpose in your life, and a sense of joy, that can last a long long time. Today is Ascension Sunday, the day that we remember how our Lord spoke one last time to his disciples and then ascended into heaven. Today we’re going to look at Jesus’ words, and Jesus’ actions, and as we do, we’re going to discover something. We’re going to discover that if we really want to have a sense of purpose in our lives, we don’t need to look down into this world for that. Instead, we can look up, at our ascending Lord, and there we will find a permanent sense of purpose. And if you’re looking for joy in you life, you don’t need to look down at this world where everything is so temporary. Look up, and you’ll find a deeper and longer lasting kind of joy in Christ.
Today we find Jesus and his disciples together in Luke 24. It was a little over five and a half weeks after his resurrection from the dead. Jesus gathered with his followers on the Mount of Olives, the same general area where he had been arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Not too far away from that mountain was the hill where he was crucified. Today, the resurrected Jesus gathered his disciples together because he had a few more things he wanted to say to them before his ascension
And as you watch those disciples here, you can see that they are still confused about why Jesus had come. They asked him if he was now going to restore Israel to the grandeur it had enjoyed in the past. Jesus told them not to think about those sorts of things. What he really wanted them to think about was their purpose in life, now that he was about to leave them. Over the last 3 years, their purpose had been to follow him, and to watch him fulfill every single Messianic prophecy that was ever written about him in the Old Testament. Their purpose was to watch him suffer and die and rise from the dead. Very soon, with the Holy Spirit’s help, they would come to understand what all these things meant. For now, they were done. Done following. Done learning. Now, Jesus was going to give them a new job, a new purpose for their lives.
Look at what Jesus tells them in verse 48 in Luke: “You are witnesses of these things.” The same thing is repeated in Acts, 1:8: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” That’s what Jesus wanted those disciples to do – that was their new purpose in life - to be witnesses to other people. They had seen all these things happen. Soon they would understand why they happened. Their purpose now, was to witness the things they have seen and learned to other people.
As a Christian today, that’s your purpose too. We just celebrated Easter not too long ago. Through God’s Word, you watched Jesus as he suffered, died, but then rose again. Even though you didn’t see those things with your eyes, we heard about it and believed it with your hearts. And God the Holy Spirit has led you to understand why Jesus died, and why he rose from the dead. He was your sacrifice. He is the reason you are forgiven of your sins and have the sure hope of eternal life. Today, your purpose is to be a witness of these things to others. That’s why you’re here, why God has put you here on this planet – to be a witness.