Summary: What happened next? While some people might view Jesus' ascension as the end of the story, we're not left wondering what happened next. Jesus' ascension assures of him giving powerful gifts to his poeple.
What happened next? You get to the end of the movie or the end of the book, and you might be left wondering, “So what happened after they rode off into the sunset? Where did they go the next day? What did their kids grow up to be?” Some of that anticipation might be intentional as the writer or producer leaves room for a sequel, but sometimes it is just the end of the story. The end.
I sometimes wonder if people feel that way about Jesus’ ascension. What a great story! God becomes man and is born in the little town of Bethlehem. Jesus repeatedly demonstrates his divine power in his preaching and performing of miracles. He lives a perfect life but is wrongly convicted and condemned to die at the cross. While at the cross he suffers for the sins of the world and willingly sacrifices his life. Three days later he triumphantly rises from the dead. During the next 40 days Jesus repeatedly appears to his disciples and other followers proving he is in fact alive. On that 40th day, Jesus rises into the sky and returns to heaven. The end. Well, not exactly. While Jesus’ ascension did mark the end of his physical and visible presence in this world, it certainly was not the end. God doesn’t leave us at Jesus’ ascension wondering what Jesus did next. This morning, we see that Jesus’ ascension into heaven assures us that God is giving powerful gifts to his people. These powerful gifts guide us through this life and guarantee us of the glorious life of heaven.
Those were the gifts that we heard about this morning in Ephesians 1. They were the gift that the Apostle Paul was praying that God would give to his fellow Christians who were living in the 1st century city of Ephesus. Paul had founded this Christian congregation while on one of his missionary journeys and had actually spent about 3 years being their pastor. Mission work had taken him away from Ephesus and it had been years since he last saw the Ephesian Christians. While he had not seen them, he heard about them. He heard how they were continuing to live their Christian faith. In the opening chapter of this letter to the Ephesian Christians, he praises and thanks God for their faith. But his prayer of thanks quickly turns into a prayer of request or intercession, asking that God give to his fellow Christians gifts that he wants every Christian, that he wants you to have. Let’s walk our way through this section of God’s Word to see the powerful gift that the ascended Jesus has for you.
In Ephesians 1:17 Pauls asks that God give to his fellow Christians, “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” You might be familiar with this definition of wisdom, that wisdom is the application of knowledge. The Christian’s wisdom begins by knowing what God has revealed to us in the Bible. What does God reveal to us in the Bible? He reveals who he is, what he has done, is doing and will do for us. The Bible reveals how God created the world and all that is in it. The Bible reveals the source of suffering, sadness and death. The Bible reveals the heart of our God who so desperately wanted to rescue people from the eternal curse of sin that he came up with a rescue plan to save people for eternity. The Bible reveals how Jesus perfectly executed God’s plan to save us from the guilt and eternal punishment of our sin. The Bible reveals the perfect life of Jesus lived in the place of every person, the death of Jesus died in the place of every person. It shows us the power and faithfulness of Jesus in his rising from the dead. The Bible reveals a God who forgives and loves, a God who makes and keeps his promises, a God who has a perfect plan and purpose for each of us.
You see, when you spend time with the Bible, the place where God reveals himself, you realize that the Bible is much more than just a book of information. It is more of a personal conversation with the God who wants you to know him and what he has done for you. As we spend time getting to know that God better, we grow in our appreciation of what God has done for us and the guidance he provides to us. And with a growing appreciation comes a growth in Godly wisdom, applying God’s Word to our daily lives. We better learn how and why to forgive, love and serve one another. We learn how and why to be better Christian parents, grandparents, friends, spouses and neighbors. We learn how and why to set priorities, to use the money and possessions, the time and abilities that God has given to us.