Summary: Sermon on the meaning of the ascension to modern Christians.
The Rest of the Story Acts 1:9-12
INTRO.: The ascension to Heaven is the last earthly event of Jesus’ ministry. It is the completion of the resurrection. He was raised, not only to renewed physical life, but to resume His Heavenly life as well. If we believe in the resurrection of Jesus, this belief leads naturally to belief in the ascension. There must be some destination beyond just the continuation of this earthly life.
This event, recorded twice by Luke, occurred 40 days after the resurrection and ten days before the Day of Pentecost. It happened on the Mount of Olives, just a short distance east of Jerusalem
Like many events in Jesus’ life, this one is full of mystery and wonder. Yet, some lessons are very clear. Some blessings come to us that could come no other way. Let us consider what the ascension of Jesus to Heaven means to us:
I. It means He is able always to be with us: Matt. 28:20
A. If you have ever lost someone truly dear to you, you know what a precious promise this is.
1. The disciples of Jesus were sorely disappointed when He died.
2. Their joy in His resurrection must have turned to disappointment again to learn He must leave again.
3. But now, even though invisible, He walks by our side.
B. He walks with us just as He walked with them in Galilee and Judea.
1. We can’t see Him or hear Him, but He is here. He has promised.
2. He hears every prayer. Matt. 18:20
II. It means His Spirit is available to us: Jn. 16:7
A. His promise was fulfilled ten days later. Acts 2:33
1. The story of the Day of Pentecost is the story of the beginning of the preaching of salvation through Jesus.
2. By sending His Spirit, He gave His apostles their message and power.
3. This gift of the Spirit is passed on to us when we are baptized into Christ. Acts 2:38
4. ILLUS.: if I promise you the gift of a car, I am giving you the car as a gift. So, in Acts 2:38, the Holy Spirit is the gift, not the giver.
B. The Holy Spirit is of great benefit to us.
1. Helps us in our prayers. Rom. 8:26, 27
2. Strengthens our inner man. Eph. 3:16
3. Guarantees our inheritance. Eph. 1:13, 14
4. Remember, if Jesus hadn’t gone to the Father, we would have no Holy Spirit.
III. It means we have a representative in Heaven. Rom. 8:34 Hb. 7:25
A. He speaks to the Father in our defense. I Jn. 2:1, 2
1. We are not to live lives of sin and rebellion, but occasionally we slip.
2. Jesus speaks to the Father in our defense. What does He say? "Father, forgive him. I sacrificed my life for him. Give him another chance."
3. Rom. 8:34, 35 says no one can condemn those who are in Christ.
B. As the Holy Spirit is God’s representative on earth, Jesus is ours in Heaven.
1. See how God has wrapped His loving arms around us and given us everything we need to maintain life and godliness.
IV. It means we will see Him again. V. 11 & Jn. 14:1-3.
A. A promise was made when Jesus ascended.
1. Disciples were gazing, amazed, into the sky. Clouds obscured Him. Two angels appeared.
2. The angels promise: it will be the very same Jesus Who will return, not another.
3. He will come in the same way He went. In the clouds of Heaven.
B. Before He left, He commissioned His Apostles to evangelize the world in His behalf. Their mission was to preach the Gospel of Christ everywhere and witness to the marvelous things they had seen and heard. Acts 1:8
1. He promised His disciples would do greater things than He in John 14:12.
2. So they did. They reached more people, went to distant places, even preached a greater message. Even though He did many miracles, He was never able to preach forgiveness through His blood as we are.
3. The Church calls this "missions" and His Presence with the Father and with His Church makes it possible for us to carry on His work. We have a part in the world’s greatest work!
V. We are assured a place in Heaven. Jn. 14:1-3
A. Knowing Jesus is in Heaven makes me want to be there all the more. I want to meet someone who loves me so much He was willing to die in my place. My desire for eternal life is strengthened.
1. His ascension is a foreshadowing of every Christian’s ascension. We will all be carried to Heaven just as He was. I Thess. 4:16, 17
2. Heaven is our home as well as His. We will meet many loved ones who have gone before us and there will never be another separation for all eternity.