Jesus’ death and resurrection was not and is not the end of His work or His ministry. His work is ongoing! After Jesus’ resurrection, He spent time with His disciples. For 40 days Jesus remained on earth, and then, He was gone. He did not simply vanish. He did not die. Jesus ascended into heaven and was seated at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2).
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 presented himself to them 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 Then they gathered around him and 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.” (Acts 1:1-11)
On Sunday, April 9, 2023, we celebrated the Holy holiday of Easter. Easter is the day when Jesus Christ rose from death and returned to the earth. While He had truly returned, He had not come to stay. Instead, Jesus only remained, physically, on earth, for another 40 days. On Thursday, May 18, 2023, 40 days after Easter, we celebrate Ascension Day.
Ascension Day is not nearly as widely celebrated as Easter, however, it is still an important day. Jesus’ ascension to Heaven is just as meaningful as His return from death. It showed that His earthly ministry was at an end. No longer was Jesus limited by His earthly form. It also showed that Jesus had completed His earthly work successfully. Since His work was done, Jesus was returning to Heaven and His heavenly glory. This glory was briefly glimpsed by three of His disciples during the Transfiguration. Jesus has returned to His Father’s side in exaltation.
Jesus was also beginning two new parts of His ministry. First, He began to, and continues to, prepare a place for all who accept His gift of everlasting life. Second, Jesus begins His work as High Priest and Mediator. Where once human High Priests were necessary to intercede between mankind and the Lord, now we are free to take our confessions, our thoughts, our worries, our desires straight to the Lord. We are able to pour out our hearts directly to Him because Jesus is now our bridge.
Finally, we are told the manner in which Jesus will once again return to the earth. He will return just as He left. Just as the clouds covered Him when He ascended, so the clouds will part to reveal Him in all His heavenly glory. His ascension is cause for celebration!
Ascension Day should serve as several reminders for all Christians. It is a chance for us to remember His command: to be His witness throughout the entire world. It is also a chance for us to remember that He is returning. And to consider if we are prepared, if we have done as He has commanded.
The world today desperately needs the message of Jesus Christ. It is becoming harder and harder to live a Christian life in a world that derides you for it. This Ascension Day, spend some time reflecting on the importance of Jesus’ ascension. Have you upheld His instructions? Are you prepared for His return? Turn your eyes upward! You never know what you may see!
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