Summary: esus’ Ascension is connected both to the Resurrection and the Second Coming of Christ. It is an extension of the Gospel and a foundational belief that has important ramifications.
On the Up and UP: Jesus’Ascension
1. It can be tough to say “Goodbye.”
2. It was hard when our daughter moved to Washington or our son went away to Bible College.
3. Indeed, if you are like me, you will probably ever see most of the people with whom you graduated high school, college – or even friends you made on the old job.
4. But final “goodbyes” are the most difficult: a dying parent or sibling, an elderly relative you manage to see for one last time but will probably never see again – at least on earth.
5. The Apostles and early believers had experience the traumatic devastation of the crucifixion followed by the ecstatic exuberance of the Resurrection. It had been wonderful!
6. But now, Jesus was ready to leave for heaven so that the age of the Holy Spirit could be ushered in and His disciples could fill the earth with His Gospel.
7. Most Christians acknowledge the truth that Jesus ascended back into heaven after spending 40 post-resurrection days on earth.
2. But many believers do not understand that the ascension of Jesus was not just a historical event: it had tremendous spiritual implications.
Main Idea: Jesus’ Ascension is connected both to the Resurrection and the Second Coming of Christ. It is an extension of the Gospel and a foundational belief that has important ramifications.
I. The FACTS About Jesus’ Ascension (9-11)
A. The Passive Voice: Who TOOK Him Up? (9a)
The answer seems obvious: the Father. While on earth, God the Son incarnate made Himself obedient to the Father.
B. Before Their Very EYES (9b)
The Ascension almost makes it as one of the essentials of the Gospel. In I Cor. 15:3ff, Paul states that the essentials of the Gospel are: (Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the 3rd Day).
In I Timothy 3:16, we have what could be one of the earliest Christian hymns:
"He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory."
C. Where Was He? On the Mount of OLIVES (cf. vs. 12)
"Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him."
D. To WHERE Did He Ascend?
E. Two ANGELS Appear As Men (10)
In Scripture, angels never appear as women or children or little cherubs. The cherub figures come from intermingling paganism with Christianity – cupid. These “men angels” never have wings.
The Cheubim and Seraphim, however, are angels with wings, but they are not human looking.
Regarding the cherubim, “The fullest of these descriptions represents the cherub as a winged figure, like a man in form, full of eyes, and with a fourfold head-of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle-with wheels turning every way…”
Regarding seraphim in Isaiah 6: “Each one had six wings, with two of which he covered his face, with two his feet, and with the two others he flew.”
[American Tract Society Bible Dictionary]
F. They Ask A RHETORICAL Question (11a)
The point of the Ascension is to show that Jesus would not be reappearing on again and off again as He had since the Resurrection. He was gone from this earth until He returns to reign in the End Times. So we have His dramatic departure and the angels affirming the obvious, that Jesus was now physically gone.
G. Christ will return in the SAME Way (11b)
The mention of the cloud in our text is not merely for purposes of atmosphere (that’s a joke).
But in seriousness, in the OT, God’s glory (Shekinah) was evidenced by a special pillar of cloud. The cloud takes us back to the OT and forward to the Second Coming of Jesus.
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."