Summary: There are three events in the life of Christ that get an awful lot of publicity: the birth of Jesus, the death of Jesus, and the resurrection of Jesus. We have recognized holidays for each of these: Christmas, Good Friday, and we have Easter. But the Ascension of Jesus is neglected by comparison.
There are three events in the life of Christ that get an awful lot of publicity. There are the birth of Jesus, the death of Jesus, and the resurrection of Jesus. We have recognized holidays for each of these: Christmas, Good Friday, and we have Easter. But the Ascension of Jesus is neglected by comparison. You’ll never find a Happy Ascension card in the Hallmark store. The Ascension of Jesus is the reason you cannot see Jesus with your physical eyes today. Jesus takes the elevator up toward heaven. For at the Ascension of Jesus, Jesus transfers from earth to heaven.
In contrast to our neglect, the ascension of Jesus has drawn the attention of artists for centuries. I want to show you three paintings in all.
Painting #1 – Ivory Ascension Jesus
Here is one done in ivory from around 400 AD - possibly the oldest depiction we have of Jesus’ Ascension. Look at the top - is getting a “hand up” – Does Jesus needs help getting to heaven? Some of these leave me with more questions than answers. Or, is Jesus climbing up to heaven here? I’m not sure. In searching for these paintings, I even found one portrait where you could even make into a shower curtain!
Painting #2 – “Feet Only” Jesus
This is from the early 1500s and it’s now at the Met in NYC. I loved this one… all you see is Jesus’ feet! What a vivid imagination of this artist.
Painting #3 – “No Jesus Here” Jesus
Here’s our last one: you will not find Jesus here because this painting simply shows the angels talking to the apostles. Jesus’ absence from the painting is more suggestive to me. Despite all these paintings, people don’t take the Ascension very seriously in our day. Sadly, most of us believers haven’t given it the thought we’d give the same attention that we would the remodeling of our kitchen.
““In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:1–11)
We began a series on the book of Acts a week ago. Did you miss “the season opener” or “episode one” last week? If so, I invite you to visit go online and get caught up. Acts is a bridge book. It is a bridge between the Gospels, which describe the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and the letters of the New Testament.
Now, four events in the life of Jesus form a ladder of light for us: Jesus’ birth, Jesus’ death, Jesus’ resurrection, and Jesus’ ascension. Now each one of the events leads up the ladder to another. And what we’ll discover today is that all four rungs point to the fifth event that is yet to come. Let’s climb the ladder of light for the next few moments and look at the Ascension of Jesus. Listen at the conclusion of this message as I want to share with you a moving story about of our people who did what Jesus commanded these men to do.
1) Why is It Significant?
In order to understand Luke’s primary interest in Jesus’ transfer to heave, we need to pay special attention to two items: the “forty days” and those “two men dressed in white”.