Summary: As Jesus ascends to heaven he blesses the disciples. This blessing is the sign of the many benefits which the ascension of Jesus gives to us.
You can listen to the full message here:-
Our King Jesus Ascends into Heaven
Let’s start straight away by reading the last few verses of Luke.
We don’t really get indications of when this took place or the full extent of what happened when Jesus went to heaven. Indeed, we could almost be mistaken into thinking that this took place very quickly after the resurrection of Jesus.
But it didn’t.
In a moment we will read the fuller story.
But for now let’s think about how Luke brings his first book to a close; because Luke does it in a very interesting way.
Think back to the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. Apart from the four verse introduction where does Luke start?
He starts in the temple with a priest named Zechariah who had no children.
Where does Luke’s Gospel end?
And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
In Luke’s narrative the temple has been transformed, symbolically, from a place where barrenness was causing grief - into a place where the ascended Jesus who has secured eternal life is being celebrated and worshipped.
Which is really important for us to see.
The ascension of Jesus is a cause for celebration and worship.
The way Luke structures these verses really emphasises this truth.
50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
The three words underlined there are all from the same Greek word.
Jesus blessed the disciples - using the normal gesture of raising his hands.
We don’t know what blessing it is but we it would be something similar to what we elsewhere in Scripture.
24 “‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’
14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Such blessings were also given by elder family members to younger family.
It was a blessing to the family to be strong and to hold firm to the plan of God. To know that there was a purpose in moving forward.
On the day of the ascension Jesus gives this blessing to the disciples.
But it is a blessing to us as well.
To know that, even today, we are under the blessing of Jesus. That he has a plan and a purpose for us and that we are part of his family.
It doesn’t mean that everything is going to go well and our lives will be smooth an rosy.
We will have wonderful days. Days of joy and blessing.
We have had those days recently as a church haven’t we.
Wedding for Alex and Lorinda
Wedding for Josh and Chelsie
But there are also days when life isn’t going so well.
Days of fear and brokenness.
Days when we feel insecure or we are struggling.
Phil in hospital.
Umbe with tumour
But in those days the hand of blessing continues. Jesus is continuing to give his blessing.
The blessing which is there in the days we really feel it.
The blessing that is just as much there on the days we don’t feel it.
That is what the ascension of Jesus gives us. We know this is the case because in the process of blessing them Jesus is lifted to heaven.
As Jesus makes his way to heaven the blessing continues.
It is a powerful reminder and a powerful symbol that Jesus is still with us.
The ascension … the blessing … are not the last words of a dying man. They are not even really a goodbye.
There is no grief and there is no anxiety.
Indeed there is a sense of peace.
The ascension … and the wait for Jesus to return … is a time to soak in the blessing of Jesus knowing that all is in hand.
Why is it all in hand?
This is probably a good moment to read the fuller account.
At the ascension all is in hand because, when Jesus goes, the Holy Spirit can come.
And it is the work of the Holy Spirit which is going to bring about the great transformation.
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.