Thursday, May 29, 2014
Luke 24:50-53 "And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising God."
Today's post is featuring an event recorded in scripture that, in the words of Bible teacher R.C Sproul, puts an exclamation point on entirety of Christ's first coming: The ascension. Today many Christians all over the world are celebrating the 40th day following Easter Sunday that is called "Ascension Thursday."
Two scriptures give us the beginning and ending points of the forty day period of time between Jesus' resurrection from the dead and His ascension into Heaven. Matthew 28:1 states: "Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave." According to Acts 1:1-3 "The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God."
Much of course occurred in that nearly six week period of time. For our interests today, we want to consider the event of the ascension itself. By beginning to focus upon the scriptures that speak of the event of Christ's ascension, we can begin to see why this event is so crucial to our understanding and worship of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Event of The Ascension of Jesus Christ
Jesus Himself had predicted during His trials and journey to the cross that He would be ascended and seated at the right hand of God the Father in Luke 22:69 "But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” Such a statement is important and reminds us that Jesus' ascension into heaven was only possible because of His willing "descension" from heaven to earth, in the virgin birth of His incarnation and ultimately into His passion or sufferings on the cross.
The ascension as an event is recorded in the Gospels and in Acts. For now I just want to list the scriptures that record this event. Why? To remind the reader that this was no myth or fictional hallucination in the minds of the New Testament authors. This event really happened, in time and space, in history and among eyewitnesses.
Mark 16:19 "So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. "
Luke 9:51 "When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem."
Luke 24:50-51 "And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven."
John 6:62 "What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?"
John 20:17 "Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”
Acts 1:9 "And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight."
Acts 1:22 "beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
Thus we see that according to Jesus Himself, the New Testament scriptures and the testimonies of the early Christians, the ascension functioned as a watershed event that would fix the identity of Christ's exaltation forever in the full testimony about Him.
I thought I would close out this special ascension day post with a statement from the SBC "2000 Baptist Faith and Message". With other Bible-believing Christian bodies throughout the world, Southern Baptists strongly affirms the reality and significance of Christ's ascension. Consider the following statement: "He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man." To all my readers, I bid you a happy Ascension day. May we all think on the event of the ascension and why this event is so crucial to our understanding and worship of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.