Summary: The Acension of Christ marks a the beginning of the church age
The New Era
Jeff Hughes – January 19, 2003
Calvary Chapel Aggieland
a. We serve a risen Lord this morning, folks. Buddhists can’t say that. They know where Buddha’s tomb is, and his remains are there. Confucius and Krishna’s remains are rotting somewhere, and so are Mohammed’s. The fact that Jesus has risen from the dead was witnessed by over a hundred people. It only takes two people’s eyewitness accounts to establish something as fact in a court of law. After Jesus’ resurrection, he stayed 40 days, continuing to teach and minister. His exit was just as dramatic as His rising from the dead. His Ascension was miraculous and not like anything the people of Israel had seen for thousands of years.
b. I don’t if or how many of you have ever seen a rocket launch. Before my wife Stacie decided to stay home to raise our children, she was a crew training manager for NASA astronauts down in Houston. On a hot, Florida July night in 1999, my wife and I were on hand with the crew’s families to watch a Space Shuttle launch. I have to say, next to the birth of my children, it was the most spectacular thing I have ever seen. I don’t think I even scratched the surface of the awesome splendor that the disciples saw that day in Bethany.
c. What we need to realize is that just like His followers on that day at Bethany looked at His departure, we are looking for His return in a cloud of Glory. We can believe in His return just as sure as we can believe in His Resurrection and His Ascension.
d. In the last two weeks, we studied Jesus’ command to His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the coming Holy Spirit. This week, we will examine the Ascension of Jesus, which ushered in a new era in the church, one with Jesus at the right hand of the Father rather than in heaven. Then, we’ll also look at the obedience of the disciples. We will look at both topics in depth as we continue to journey through Acts.
e. With that, let’s pray.
a. Karl Barth, a famous theologian, was on a streetcar one day in Basel, Switzerland, where he lectured. A tourist to the city climbed on and sat down next to Barth. The two men started chatting with each other. "Are you new to the city?" Barth inquired. "Yes," said the tourist. "Is there anything you would particularly like to see in this city?" asked Barth. "Yes; he said, "I’d love to meet the famous theologian Karl Barth. Do you know him?" Barth replied, "Well, as a matter of fact, I do. I give him a shave every morning." The tourist got off the streetcar quite delighted. He went back to his hotel saying to himself, "I met Karl Barth’s barber today."
b. Likewise, a number of years ago a story appeared which told of a man who picked up a beautiful rock from a North Carolina stream bed and used it as his cabin doorstop. Years later a geologist who was hiking in the area stopped at the cabin and noticed the doorstop, which he immediately recognized as a huge lump of gold. In fact, it proved to be one of the largest gold nuggets ever found east of the Rockies.
c. Like the man who failed to recognize gold when he held it in his hands, the disciples failed to recognize the true nature of the Lord - even after more than three years with him.
d. We often don’t recognize greatness, even when we encounter it directly. The question before you this morning is, “What about you? Do you know Jesus?” I pray that by the end of our message this morning, you would answer that question.
i. The Ascension of Jesus is an important event in scripture. It is covered not only here in Acts, but also in the gospels of Mark and Luke. Mark’s abbreviated account just tells us He was taken up into heaven and was gone.
ii. .But, Luke, the writer of Acts and the gospel of Luke spends considerable time on the Ascension of Jesus. I have a theory as to why he does this. Remember in our first message in Acts, I said that Luke was the only gentile writer of the New Testament. Church tradition tells us that Luke was a physician from Syrian Antioch. Well, here’s my take on why Luke went to such pains to describe the event. Luke was writing to a gentile audience. The Jewish readers would have some idea as to what ascending into heaven entailed, as Elijah was taken up into heaven in a fiery chariot, and we’re going to look at that a little more later on.