Summary: Jesus’ ascension is one of the facts of salvation we confess in the Apostle’s Creed every week. But what does it mean for us today?

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach {2} until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. {3} After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. {4} On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. {5} For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." {6} So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" {7} He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. {8} But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." {9} After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. {10} They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. {11} "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

Do you remember memorizing Luther’s Catechism in confirmation class? If you do, you will remember a question that Luther loved to ask in each part of the catechism. You know the question. “What does this mean?” Over and over again, he asked the question, “What does this mean?” I hope you learned to ask that question every time you read a portion of the Bible, or meditate on some important truth in the Scriptures. Let’s ask that question of Jesus’ ascension, which we are celebrating tonight.

What Does Jesus’ Ascension Mean?

1. It means that Jesus finished his work on earth

Forty days after Easter, Jesus led his disciples out to the Mt. of Olives. For the forty days from Easter to Ascension, Jesus gave his disciples their last bits of instruction. He helped them put all the pieces together, which could not happen until they had experienced his resurrection. Then he blessed them and ascended into the heavens until a cloud hid him from their eyes. Instead of being sad, Luke tells us in his gospel that the disciples were filled with joy.

What does this mean? Perhaps we are stating the obvious, but sometimes the obvious needs to be stated. God sent his Son into the world on a mission. He sent him here to save the world from sin. He sent Jesus here to rescue us for heaven. The fact that Jesus ascended back into heaven to be with his father at his right hand means that Jesus completed his mission.

What does that mean for you and me? This, dear friends, gives us the greatest joy and comfort. Deep down inside our sinful natures lurks the dark question the rich young ruler had for Jesus. (Mat 19:16 NIV) "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" Our conscience bothers us because of our many sins. We want desperately to be sure of heaven. Isn’t there something we can do to be sure? If only I had a stronger faith. If only I could do better at living a Christian life. Maybe if I read the Bible from cover to cover, I could feel more at peace. Now reading the Bible from cover to cover is a good thing to do, but not if you are doing it because you think that will earn you peace of mind and assurance of heaven. Isn’t there anything I can do to be more sure of heaven?

The answer is, “No.” Just relax and believe that Jesus has done it all. If there had been something left undone, if there was something that had to happen to complete God’s plan to save us, Jesus wouldn’t have ascended into heaven. He could not have left his disciples, looking up into the sky, if there was something that they had to do to come to heaven with him. Everything was done. Every sin was paid for. Every righteous act was done and had been transferred into their account. No wonder Jesus’ ascension gave them such joy, and why it gives us such joy still today. Relax and rejoice. Jesus has done it all.

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Donald Love

commented on May 1, 2008

Great piece of Work!

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