Summary: What does the Ascension mean to us in 21st Century Britain
Three guiding lights for the Church
The story of the Ascension of Jesus Christ is a wonderful piece of history, but what relevance does have to us in 21st Century Britain.
May I answer my own question by telling you a story?
Story: Norman Cates shared the humorous story of a Christian who used to pray this prayer every morning:
"Lord, if you want me to witness to someone today, please give me a sign to show me who it is."
One day he found himself on a bus when a big, burly man sat next to him.
The bus was nearly empty but this guy sat next to the Christian.
The timid Christian anxiously waited for his stop so he could exit the bus.
But before he could get very nervous about the man next to him, the big guy burst into tears and began to weep.
He then cried out with a loud voice, "I need to be saved. I’m a lost sinner and I need the Lord. Won’t somebody tell me how to be saved?"
He turned to the Christian and pleaded, "Can you show me how to be saved?"
The believer immediately bowed his head and prayed, "Lord, is this a sign?"
(I have lost the souce but it is from Sermon Central.com)
The relevence of the Ascension of Jesus is simply this
He has now departed this earth and has left us to get on with the business of telling others the Gospel
Our Gospel reading for Ascension Day focuses on Jesus’ Great Commission to his disciples to preach the Good News and we see similar words in the beginning of the book of Acts
You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
Why is that so important?
Well, how many of us would be here today if Peter had gone off fishing and Martha had gone back to housework and their friends had been too preoccupied to tell others about Christ.
Yet as we sit in this wonderful 12th Century Church this evening – the longevity of the building reminds us of the 800 years (at least) of unbroken Christian worship in Magdalen – but not just worship but witness to the resurrected and ascended Jesus in their lives
I would like to focus on a short passage from our Gospel reading this evening because it shows us three guiding lights for the Church
The passage from Luke 24 is this:
45Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,47and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.49I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
There are - to my way of thinking - three guiding lights that we can take from this passage
1. The first guiding light is a biblical theology (Lk 24;45-46)
Jesus opened up their minds to Scripture
As the Church, we need to know that Jesus and his ministry are rooted in the OT.
Jesus death on the Cross wasn’t an “unhappy chance”.
It was in the plan of God from the day that sin entered the world back in Genesis 3.
We need to become familiar with the Word of God.
Why – because we don’t base our Gospel on reason but rather God’s revelation in the scripture.
Bible Study is important because it is GOD’S REVELATION to his people.
Notice the emphasis – God’s REVELATION to his people. And we ignore it at our peril
2. The second guiding light is that the Church needs an evangelistic programme (Lk 24:47-48)
Jesus gave his Church a single Commission – to preach the Good News to all people everywhere
If we claim Jesus is Lord of our lives, we can hardly not want to do what he tells us to do.
But our motivation for preaching the Good News is not because we have to but because we WANT to. In gratitude for what God has done for us
Story: Victor Shepherd tells the story of a missionary surgeon he met who was rather gruff and to the point.
On one occasion the surgeon was speaking to a small group of university students about his work in the
He was telling us that we North American "fat cats"
Knew nothing about gratitude. Nothing!
On one occasion he had stopped a peasant hovel to see a woman on whom he had performed surgery.
She and her husband were dirt poor.
Their livestock supply consisted of one Angora rabbit and two chickens.