Summary: When we come face to face with the ascension of Jesus Christ, our lives are changed.
“THE ASCENSION OF JESUS CHRIST”
April 14, 2002—FBC, Richland
In one of the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strips, Calvin and Hobbes are lying under the shade of a tree on a hot summer day. Calvin, the hyperactive little boy, asks, “What if there is no heaven? What if this is all we get?” Hobbes, the tiger answers, “Well, if this is all we get I guess we’ll just have to accept it.” Calvin replies, “Yeah, but if I’m not going to be rewarded for my good deeds, I want to know it now.”
Life after death—immortality—seems to be on everyone’s mind these days. If I were picking a religion today, I would want one that spoke with clarity and authority about life beyond the grave.
Ironically, if you were to take a few months and study the writings of other religions, you would discover that the history of their founders stops abruptly with their death. Like everyone else their bodies wasted away in the grave. What are Confucius, Mohammed (Islam), and Krishna (Hindus) doing now? What are their plans for the future? Not even their most devoted followers know for sure!
The Christian faith is different. The written record of God’s Word and countless eyewitnesses confirm that Jesus Christ was God’s Son. He died on the cross for the sin of the entire human race. God raised Jesus from the dead bodily. These are the facts that set Him apart from every other religious leader in the world. The question remains—can He speak with clarity about life after death? Where is Jesus right now and what is He doing?
A bank in Binghamton, New York sent a floral arrangement to a business that had recently moved into a new building. There was a mix up at the florist, and the card sent with the arrangement read, “With our deepest sympathy.” The florist apologized, but became even more embarrassed when he learned that the floral arrangement sent to a funeral home read, “Congratulations on your new location.”
I have good news for you today. After Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, He moved to a new location. He ascended to heaven! Furthermore, the Bible records what Jesus is doing now and what His plans are for the future.
Today, we are going to consider the ascension of Jesus Christ and its relevance for our present life and for eternity. Turn in your Bible to Acts 1 and beginning with verse 9 look at the text:
“And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.’” [Acts 1:9-11]
The disciples of Jesus visibly saw Him rise from the ground. The Lord, clothed in His resurrected body, moved from this material world into the spiritual world. His followers were stunned. Two angels appeared to them and told them that Jesus had been taken up into heaven. Life would go on for these disciples, but they would never be the same. The ascension of Jesus Christ changed everything for them and us. Let’s look first at…
I. THE MAJESTY OF THE ASCENDED CHRIST
Have you ever considered what it must have been like when Jesus entered heaven after His death, burial, and resurrection? John’ gospel records a prayer Jesus prayed before He died. Here’s what Jesus prayed, “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do. And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” [Jn. 17:4-5]
Jesus Christ is eternal; He was never created. So, before He came to earth, He existed in spirit form with all the glory of God’s eternal Son. When Jesus was clothed in human flesh, He laid aside His glory in heaven. Now, He would come back to receive His glory!
I want you to get the picture here. Paul tells us, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.” [Eph. 4:8] I believe that Jesus was like a victorious general returning from battle with every Old Testament saint forming His royal entourage. Through the spirit realm, this glorious march made its way to heaven.
David gives us an idea of how heaven prepared for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. He wrote, “Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O gates, and lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.” [Ps. 24:7-10]