Summary: The Ascension of Jesus Christ, and His commission to His disciples, is vitally important for today. Our life’s purpose as Christians and as the Church are found in the last words of Jesus before He leaves planet earth for a while.
Sermon for CATM – May 2, 2010 – The Ascension of Jesus Christ
Show “God’s Ipod” short film (Will be on Youtube by June
Jesus is alive!!! Amen. He is here by His Holy Spirit. He is present to us. God has not abandoned us. Lives that touch Jesus are transformed. New purpose and self-respect is discovered to enable us to move away that the things that bind us.
New strength is discovered to begin life afresh, to rebuild shattered lives. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is here, today, in this place…at work to transform us into the likeness of Jesus.
Romans 8: 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
For a man who died 40 days ago, Jesus was surprisingly well. It would have been quite a rough ride for those who had been convinced that Jesus was a fraud.
After His crucifixion, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared again and again and again to all kinds of people, to the disciples and to others…alive!
Those who had seen Him die, those who had made up stuff to get Him killed, those in spiritual leadership who had, they thought, done their best to rid the people of a man they just didn’t understand but who they thought wasn’t a good guy…
All these folks, people who we don’t think about a lot, would have been pretty messed up…when they saw Jesus walking around and talking and eating and hanging out with His disciples…AGAIN.
And Peter, the loud, over-confident, foot-in-mouth disciple who had denied Jesus three times, Jesus restored by giving Peter three opportunities to confess his love for Jesus and receive the profound commission to be one who would feed the sheep of God.
To Thomas the disciple who just wouldn’t take the word of his friends for the resurrection of Jesus, Jesus appeared and offered His wounds as hard evidence of His resurrection. Likewise, the rest of His appearances were enough to confound those who refused to believe.
Matthew 28:9 Jesus appears to Mary and Mary Magdalene
Mark 16:14 Jesus appears to the eleven apostles
Luke 24:15-31 Jesus appears to two disciples
Luke 24:36-53 Jesus appears to the eleven apostles
John 20-21 Jesus appears to the Apostles
Acts 1:1-11 Jesus appears to the Apostles
Acts 9, 22, 26 Jesus appears to Paul.
1 Corinthians 15:6 Jesus appears to over 500
In order to get a complete idea of the events surrounding the Ascension of Jesus into heaven, we need to look at the complete account by Luke, which he begins at the end of his gospel and continues into the book of Acts. Let’s read together this account, part A and part B.
Luke 24:44 He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
In case you have not been tracking with us for the past little while, we’ve been walking through the experience of the disciples in the post-resurrection period leading up to the ascension of Jesus, which is today’s topic.
The disciples, of course, were all Jewish men who had left pretty much everything to follow Jesus. So here, Jesus emphasizes something that is really very important, but that can get lost on contemporary ears. Jesus here, after the resurrection, reminds the disciples of what He had told them before the crucifixion: there were countless prophesies about Jesus in the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Bible that were true and that had to be fulfilled. Just to mention a very few:
Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”. And Isaiah 9: 6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”.
These prophesies are obviously about Jesus, but Jesus doesn’t rely on the fact that the prophesies were there in plain text in the Bible. It’s never enough to have the text on the page.
Spiritual things need to be spiritually discerned and understood. Some people look at these verses and see no correspondence to Jesus. Why?
1 Corinthians 2: 14 says this: “The man (or woman) without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned”.