The Last Instructions of Jesus (Tenth Resurrection Appearance) and His Ascension

Ultimile Instructiuni ale Domnului Isus

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

After Jesus’ resurrection, he was on earth for 40 days (Acts 1:3), then He led His followers out to Bethany, just outside Jerusalem, and „lifting up His hands, He blessed them. While He blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51).
John 21:1-23 relates the story of the last appearance of Jesus after His     resurrection.  Then Matthew’s center of these instructions is the future mission to spread the good news through baptism and teaching (Matthew 28:18-20). In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus teaches them to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins  (Matthew 24:47). In the fourth Gospel, Jesus breathes on the disciples the Holy Spirit, thereby empowering them to continue his mission, including the forgiveness of sins (John 20:22-23).

TENTH  RESURRECTION  APPEARANCE

From the upper room to the Mount of Olives. Mark 16:19, 20  Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:4-11.

A. Jesus blesses them and promises the baptism of the Spirit.

B. He orders them to witness for Him:

  1. In Jerusalem
  2. In Judea
  3. In Samaria
  4. unto the uppermost parts of the earth.

C. He is received up into glory to the right hand of the Father.

D. This is the Old Testament Prophecy fulfillment number 38, that He would ascend. (Compare Psalm 24:7-10 with Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51). Did the resurrected Christ appear before any unsaved individuals? On the strength of Matthew 23:37-39 it would seem He did not.

„O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

These words conclude  the Bible’s account of the greatest  life that was ever lived. It should, however be said that His glory story is not limited to the four Gospel accounts. In fact, each of the sixty-six Biblical books presents a glimpse of this marvelous and mighty Messiah. Note the following „scriptural summary of the Savior”:

Christ in every book (of the Bible)

Christ is the theme of the entire revelation of God. He is promised in Genesis, revealed in the Law, prefigured in its history, praised in poetry, proclaimed in its prophecy, provided in its Gospels, proved in its Acts, preeminent in its Epistles and prevailing in Revelation.

(thanks to Gabi Bogdan for above video, illustrating Christ in every book, through song)

He is seen in every book of the Bible. Take a journey through the Halls of Holy Writ and and in every one of them you will see Christ. Starting with Genesis He is the seed of the woman; in Exodus the Lamb for sinners slain; in Leviticus, our High Priest; in Numbers, the Star of Jacob and the Brazen Serpent; in Deuteronomy,  the Prophet like unto Moses and the Great Rock; in Joshua, the Captain of the Lord’s Hosts; in Judges the Messenger of Jehovah; in Ruth our Kinsman-Redeemer and the Faithful Bridegroom; in 1 Samuel He is seen as the Great Judge; in 2 Samuel as the Princely King; in 1st Kings as David’s Choice; in  2 Kings as the Holiest of All; in 1 Chronicles as King by Birth; in 2 Chronicles as King by Judgement.

In Ezra He is seen as Lord of heaven and earth; in Nehemiah as builder; in Esther our Mordecai; in Job our Daysman and our Risen,  returning Redeemer; in Psalms the Son of God and the Good Shepherd; in Proverbs our Wisdom; in Ecclesiastes as the One above the sun; in Song of Solomon the great Church lover; the one Altogether Lovely and the Chiefest among ten thousand. (VIA)

The ascent into heaven

Only Mark (longer version) and Luke include an account of the ascension. For the other evangelists, Jesus’ return to the Father is taken for granted (implied). Luke wants both to round up (finish) his Gospel and to provide a link with his second volume, The Acts of the Apostles. Favorite themes, first appearing in his infancy narratives, are all fitted into these final two verses–journey, Jerusalem, rejoicing, prayers of praise(Luke 24:52-53). Jesus is portrayed as lifting His hands in blessing over the small group of disciples; in Acts 1:6-11, He will commission them to extend this blessing to the entire world and thus throughout the ages. (VIA)

The Ascent of Joy by John Piper (on Jesus’ Ascension forty days after the Resurrection)

 

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Luke 24:44-53

And Jesus said to them, „These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you that, everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures and said to them, „Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are my witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.”

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.

In the book of Acts, which Luke writes to continue his account of Jesus’ work in history (by his Spirit), he says (1:1–3):

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.

Therefore, we learn that the ascension of Jesus back to the right hand of God the Father occurred forty days after the resurrection. Had it been Easter 1981 when Jesus was raised from the dead, the ascension would have occurred last Friday, day before yesterday. And had we been among the disciples, we would now find ourselves waiting in Jerusalem for the outpouring of God’s Spirit which came about ten days later on Pentecost. Therefore, today I want to focus our attention on the ascension of Jesus, and next Sunday on the meaning of Pentecost.

Mai mult

What is the meaning of the Ascension of Jesus in the Gospels ?

By Bob Deffinbaugh via Bible.org Photo James Tissot 

Introduction

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Ascension_(L'Ascension)_-_James_Tissot

I had determined some time ago that this message on the ascension of Jesus Christ would be the conclusion of this series on the life and ministry of our Lord. When I began a serious study in preparing for this message, I came to a distressing realization: the ascension of the Savior was not considered worthy of emphasis by any of the gospel writers.

You will read the entire gospel of Matthew without finding any direct reference to the ascension. The same is true for John’s gospel. The book of Mark condenses this event into only one verse, and if you consult the commentaries, they will tell you that this verse may not be authentic. Luke’s gospel, in very general terms, relates this final event in the life of our Lord in one verse. I must conclude that for some reason the ascension was not considered essential to the purposes which compelled the gospel writers to record their accounts of the life and ministry of the Master. The purpose of this study is to answer the obvious question, “Why?” “Why do none of the gospel accounts make much of the ascension of Jesus Christ?”

Why Was the Ascension of Our Lord 
Not a More Important Theme in the Gospels?

Let me try to identify some of the reasons for this lack of emphasis on the ascension in the gospel accounts. While these reasons are largely inferential, they do help us to see this matter through the eyes of the gospel writers.

First and foremost, the purpose of the gospels is revealed in their title, ‘the gospel.’ That is, the authors of the gospels set out to present the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. Technically speaking, the salvation was procured by the death of Christ and proved by the resurrection. The ascension did not directly contribute to the work of the cross in such a way as to be instrumental in achieving the salvation of men.233 In the light of the writers’ purpose to portray the good news of salvation, any part of Christ’s life and ministry which does not directly relate to their purpose would pale in the shadow of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord. It is not that the ascension of Christ is unimportant, then, but that it is largely irrelevant to the purpose of the gospel accounts.

Second, the ascension of Christ was not a favorite topic for those who were so intimately involved with Him. As John put it,

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, …” (1 John 1:1-3).

Unlike Christians today, the disciples lived and walked and talked, and touched the Savior while He was on the earth in bodily form. Whenever He talked of departing them or leaving them, they were deeply distressed (cf.John 16:6,22). It was not something they wanted to happen, or that they wanted to think about.

Those of us who have had Christian loved ones die can understand the feelings of the disciples concerning the Lord’s ascension. While we know that God’s will has been done and that those who have died in Christ are with the Lord, we personally sense the loss of the presence of our loved ones who have departed, even though we anticipate spending eternity with them in the presence of our Lord. We do not, therefore, find great comfort or joy in reminiscing over the departure of our loved ones. So, too, I believe the gospel writers did not have any predisposition to write of our Lord’s departure to return to His Father.

Third, the ascension does not serve as a fitting conclusion to the life and ministry of our Lord. It somehow seems anti-climactic in the light of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. It tends to conclude on a note of sorrow and separation rather than of joy, victory, and triumph.

What, Then, Is the Meaning of the Ascension?

We have seen that the gospel accounts hardly mention the ascension, and we have suggested several reasons for this to be the case. While the ascension may not be prominent in the gospels, it is paramount in the book of Acts. While Luke did not emphasize it at the conclusion of his first book (Luke), he highlighted it at the beginning of his second volume (Acts).

The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 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. And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. 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. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:1-11).

One of the most significant words in the book of Acts is that little word “began” in verse one. The first account, which was the gospel of Luke, was the report of what Jesus began to do and to teach. The book of Acts records what our Lord continued to do and to teach through His body, the church.

We are guilty of misunderstanding the words of our Lord upon the cross, when He cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The Savior could truly say “It is finished” with regard to the work of redemption, which was accomplished on the cross. According to the usage of this expression man’s debt for sin could be marked “paid in full.” But the Lord Jesus did not say, “I am finished” in the sense that His work on earth was completed. Only His work of procuring men’s salvation was finished. The work of proclaiming that salvation to men is still going on. That is what Luke meant when he spoke of what our Lord “began to do and teach” in the introduction of his second volume. The exciting thing to realize is that the ascension of our Lord was vital to the continuation of our Lord’s work on earth through His body, the church.

While the provision for man’s salvation was the work of our Lord which was completed on the cross of Calvary, the proclamation and application of the benefits of this work have continued through the centuries, through the church, the body of Christ. The ascension of Jesus Christ was central to the initiation and continuation of this work.

From a casual reading of the gospel accounts one would get the impression that Jesus ascended to His Father shortly after His resurrection. In Acts we learn that there was a period of 40 days that our Lord continued to manifest Himself to His disciples on the earth: “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” (Acts 1:3).

The purpose of this forty-day period was three-fold as described in verses 3-5 of Acts chapter 1. First of all it was designed to convince the disciples of the fact of our Lord’s physical, bodily resurrection (cf. verse 3 above).

The remaining chapters of Acts reveal that the central truth of which the disciples were fully-convinced was that Jesus, though put to death, had risen from the grave:234

“This man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:23,24).

“But you disowned the Holy and Righteous one, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of Life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14-15; cf. also 1:22; 4:2,10; 5:30-32; 7:56-60).

‘Many convincing proofs’ which happened over a substantial period of time, in a variety of circumstances, to a diverse number of people (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:4-8), served well the purpose of convincing the disciples of the fact of our Lord’s resurrection.

A second purpose of the forty day period after the resurrection was to command the disciples.

“… appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, …” (Acts 1:3,4).

There was much that the disciples could not understand about the life and ministry of the Lord until after His death and resurrection. Now He could speak plainly of His work upon the cross and they could understand His teaching. But even now there were truths that they could not bear. Only after His departure, after the promised Holy Spirit came upon them, would they comprehend the great truths of the gospel. For this reason, Jesus commanded the disciples to wait until the promised Spirit was sent.

Third, the forty days enabled our Lord to clarify and correct certain misconceptions held by the disciples.

“And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth’” (Acts 1:6-8).

The Kingdom was a prominent theme in Jesus’ ministry. John the Baptist came before Jesus and introduced Him as the King of Israel (cf. Matthew 3:2Mark 1:2-3), as well as the Lamb of God. Jesus frequently spoke of the Kingdom (cf. Matthew 5-7,13). The disciples were preoccupied with the subject, and particularly their role in it (cf. Matthew 19:28Mark 10:37f.). The religious leaders accused Jesus of being a king or of claiming a kingdom (John 19:12) and this Pilate acknowledged (Matthew 27:37). The thief on the cross asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His Kingdom (Luke 23:42).

Little wonder that the disciples should persist in bringing up the subject of the Kingdom after the resurrection. They were certain that it must be forthcoming. Our Lord found it necessary to clarify His teaching on the Kingdom that was to come.

Mark it well; Jesus corrected His disciples on the matter of the time of the Kingdom’s arrival, not on its essential nature. The commentators are much more critical of the disciples than Christ was. They would seek to change the disciples whole conception of the Kingdom; our Lord only dealt with the time of its inauguration. The disciples anticipated a literal, physical reign of our Lord upon the earth. Some Bible students would have us believe that such expectations were misguided. They suppose that Jesus spoke only of a spiritual reign in the hearts of men.

That’s a rather interesting thing, because our Lord does not correct the disciple’s concept of the Kingdom; He corrects their preoccupation with the timing of the Kingdom. Now if they were wrong in thinking there was a Kingdom to come after three years of teaching, they were also wrong after 40 days of post-graduate work. More than this, my friends, they were wrong after the coming of the Holy Spirit. Because one of the things you will discover later in the book of Acts is that when the apostles preached, they preached to the Jews that if they turned to Jesus as Messiah, there would be a restoration of the Kingdom.

Look, for example, in Acts chapter 3 after Pentecost. Peter and John are preaching as a result of the healing of the cripple who was outside of the temple, and who was healed. Peter says in verse 19: “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

The expression ‘times of refreshing,’ was understood rightly by Israel as being the time of the restoration and the establishment of God’s Kingdom upon earth. “And that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of the restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time” (Acts 3:20-21).

In other words, that which the Old Testament prophets had been speaking, that which our Lord Jesus came to establish, that is the message which the apostles preached. Until 70 A.D., they offered to Israel the opportunity to turn to Jesus as the Messiah, and promised that if they did, the Kingdom would be ushered in. Obviously, the nation did not repent and believe. And you understand that Israel, trying to forcibly bring the Kingdom in unbelief by rebelling against Rome, brought the power of Rome down upon them. Because of Jewish insurrection, Rome sacked that city and there was a massacre that was absolutely incredible to read about. Millions of Jews, it seems, died at that time. My point is simply this, the disciples had come to believe in a literal kingdom as a result of the teaching of our Lord, both before and after His resurrection.

Understandably, then, the disciples put this question to our Lord: “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (verse 6).

I want to underline the phrase, “at this time.” That is the issue that our Lord calls to their attention, not the issue of the nature of the Kingdom. He is dealing not with their misconceptions about the Kingdom, but with their preoccupation with the time of its coming. That is where they were wrong.

Now you must understand the circumstances in which all of this occurred. Do you remember where this took place? Not Jerusalem. It was the city outside of Jerusalem—Bethany. Bethany is where the triumphal entry began (cf. John 12:1,9,12). This is where Jesus had raised Lazarus. People had gathered not only to see Jesus, but to behold Lazarus, and it was out of all of this that the crowd came to herald Jesus as the Messiah. So it was Bethany that was the point of origin for the triumphal entry.

Now can you imagine why the disciples would bring up the subject of the coming of the Kingdom? I suppose they thought, “Here we are at Bethany again. Maybe we’re going to have the real triumphal entry this time.”

One of the seminary students suggested that the Lord had promised the coming of the Holy Spirit, and perhaps it was the fulfillment of this promise to which they also looked forward. That may be. Here they were, Jesus was raised from the dead, the subject of conversation had been the Kingdom. Now there is this promise for which they are to wait. And you know how our minds always run wild in speculation when we are waiting for something and we do not know exactly what it is. All of these things must have come together, and the disciples were almost ready to burst with anticipation. And so our Lord responded to them, not regarding their concept of the Kingdom, but regarding their preoccupation with its time: “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority” (Acts 1:7).

You see, this is no correction concerning the anticipation of a physical, literal thousand-year reign. Our Lord granted that their understanding of the Kingdom was correct. He was simply saying, “Don’t get preoccupied with when it is to occur.”

There are Christians today who seem to be more interested about the precise timing of eschatological (that is, prophetic) events than they are with godly living (cf. 2 Peter 3:11-13). I am not saying we should not study prophecy. I am saying we should not become preoccupied with it to the point where we ignore our duty and our obligation to live godly lives and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is the thrust of our Lord’s words in Acts 1:7-8. They were not intended to know the exact time of the Lord’s return and the establishment of His Kingdom. But as a result of His departure, the Holy Spirit would come, bestowing power upon them, by which they would witness to Jesus Christ at home and abroad (cf. John 14:7ff.).

In one sense the ascension is the final answer of our Lord to the question raised by the apostles. We cannot view the ascension of the Savior apart from its context with the paragraph—a section which centers in the question of the disciples concerning the coming of the Kingdom.

Verse 9 informs us that after Jesus had spoken the words of verses 7 and 8 He was taken from their sight into the heavens. The last words of Jesus concerned the matter of the Kingdom and our present responsibilities. The conversation was terminated by Jesus’ departure.

But more than this the ascension itself was the most forceful and satisfying answer to the question of the disciples:

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. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11).

The ascension was a glorious event. Our Lord disappeared into a cloud, not ‘into the clouds’ (cf. verse 9). It may well be that this cloud was no ordinary cloud, but rather a manifestation of the Shekinah glory, even as it took place in the transfiguration (cf. Matthew 16:27–17:9, especially verse 5). Since the transfiguration was a preview of the coming Kingdom, the Kingdom must be quite similar. Now, in Acts 1:11 we are told that the return of the Lord Jesus will be like that of His ascension. It, like the transfiguration, must have been glorious, but it was viewed by a larger number.

The ascension was a display of the splendor and glory of the coming Kingdom. As such it was a reassurance to the disciples that this Kingdom was the same as they had previously been instructed.

What a beautiful way to dovetail a two-fold response to this pressing question of the disciples. While they were not to be overly concerned about the timing of the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel, they were assured of its certainty and its splendor. What a gracious event the ascension was. It served as an assurance to the disciples that their hopes would be realized.

One last passage remains to be considered in our study of the ascension of Christ and its importance to us.

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.” Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:7-12).

The ascension was the final, incontestable evidence that Jesus Christ was the victor over Satan and his hosts. It is the measure of His victory, but also the measure of the power which has been bestowed upon His saints to carry out His work on earth until He returns.

The ascension was necessary for the Holy Spirit to come upon the church (and individual believers) in a different way than in times past (John 16:7ff.). But it was also an indication of the extent of the power which was made available to complete the task set before us.

This was a desperately needed event for who but His most intimate followers would sense most deeply His bodily absence? Who most needed assurance of His spiritual presence and power? And surely those of us who have never walked the dusty roads with Him and heard Him speak or felt His touch need this assurance as well.

Conclusion

Taking the various threads of which the doctrine of the ascension of Christ is woven we can briefly summarize its reference and application to Christians:

(1) Separation. In one sense the ascension was the bodily separation of our Lord from His followers. But we must quickly add that the Scriptures never record any mourning or tears concerning this. Undoubtedly this is true because, ironic as it may seem, our Lord’s departure inaugurated a time of even greater intimacy through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. “… and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

(2) Consummation. The ascension symbolized that the work which our Lord was sent to accomplish in His physical body on earth has been finished. “… when He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).

(3) Glorification. When our Lord returned to the Father it was in splendor and glory. While His glory was somewhat veiled by His humble surroundings at His incarnation, His return was with even greater glory and honor because of the work He had accomplished. “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9).

(4) Confirmation. The ascension was, in part, a confirmation of Christ’s person and work. He returned to the Father. In this His claim to have come from the Father was vindicated. While no one could actually witness the actual incarnation of Christ in the virgin birth, His return was visible to His followers. The ascension of Christ is also a confirmation of our faith and assurance in Christ: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchezedek” (Hebrews 6:19-20).

(5) Transition. The ascension serves as a connecting link: between the work of Christ in salvation and that in our sanctification; between the gospels and the epistles; between what has been accomplished by Christ and what is still being done through His Spirit. It is even a transition in the ministry of Christ as well. Having completed His work on the cross in His flesh, He now intercedes for us as a sympathetic High Priest, as One Who has experienced our afflictions:

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 5:14-16).

(6) Anticipation. The ascension also creates in our hearts a sense of expectation as we realize that He will return, just as He departed: “… This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into Heaven” (Acts 1:11).

And so it is that we come to the importance of the ascension to Christians today. It is not primarily to be viewed as the conclusion of our Lord’s life and ministry, but as the introduction of a new phase of His ministry through His church, empowered by His Spirit. The assurance of His return and the measure of His presence and power in these intervening days is to be found, to a great extent, in His ascension. What a Savior!

––––––––––––––––––––––

233 Lest anyone become upset by this statement, let me go on to say that it does have much to do with the application of men’s salvation, as we shall demonstrate later.

234 It is interesting to note that during His earthly life our Lord’s opposition came primarily from the scribes and Pharisees. These were men who believed in supernaturalism and such things as angels and resurrection. In the book of Acts the main thrust of the opposition came from the Sadducees, the liberals who did not believe in any resurrection (cf. Matthew 22:23Acts 4:11).

The Record of the Ascension of Jesus Part 2

A study by  J. Hampton Keathley, III at Bible.org See part 1 here – An introduction to the Ascension of Jesus looking at Isaiah 6

 

The Record of the Ascension:
Its Confirmation and Significance

Prophet – Photo via vk.com

Prophets Anticipated the Ascension

It is important to realize the ascension of Christ has always been a part of the overall plan of God. The idea of the ascension was not some last minute idea thought up by hapless and hopeless disciples.

Isaiah 52:13 Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted.

Belief in the ascension and its accomplishments has it source in the expectations and promises of Old Testament prophecy.

Psalm 16:8-11 I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely. 10 For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay. 11 Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; In Thy presence is fulness of joy; In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever. (emphasis mine)

This prophecy traces Christ from the cross through resurrection back into His glory at God’s right hand through the ascension (cf. Acts 2:24-36).

Psalm 110:1-5 A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.” . . .. The Lord is at Thy right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.

Also compare:

Matthew 22:41-44 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42saying, “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” They said to Him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, 44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Until I put Thine enemies beneath Thy feet”’?

Christ used this Old Testament passage which anticipated the ascension of David’s son to God’s right hand to demonstrate just who Messiah was and what this should mean to mankind. Messiah would be David’s son but also David’s Lord–one who shared God’s throne as God Himself. The ascension is alluded to in the words “at my right hand.” This shows us an understanding of what the ascension means and teaches us about Jesus Christ is vital for right thinking and response to the person of Christ. (Cf. Psalm 68:18Eph. 4:8ff; Isa 52:13).

The Lord’s ascension was anticipated in the Old Testament and viewed as essential to a proper understanding of just who Messiah is and of His ministry to men. (Photo Jesus ascension.jpg)

Jesus-ascension-

Christ Anticipated the Ascension

The ascension was no surprise to the Lord. From the very beginning of His ministry, the Lord was not only aware that He had come to die for our sin, but anticipated both the resurrection and the ascension. Both were foretold in the Old Testament and Christ knew that like His death, the resurrection and ascension were essential for fulfilling God’s purposes and solving man’s dilemma. There must be both the DESCENT from heaven and theASCENT back into heaven.

There are some fifteen or more passages where the Lord speaks of the ascension or alludes to it in one way or another. That is not without significance. In each of the passages the Lord used the ascension much like the fact of the resurrection. He used it to authenticate His person and to give reasons for what He could and would do for man, and why the person and work of Christ demands a verdict–the verdict of faith and commitment.

The ascension is a vital link in the entire chain of events, all of which are essential. It is the link between His past finished work and His present and future work. It demonstrates Jesus Christ to be the final solution for man’s need of prophet, priest, and king (Cf. John 3:13John 6:62John 13:1John 14:1-2Luke 20:41-44).

New Testament Believers Witnessed the Ascension

The Time of the Ascension

There are some who contend that Christ ascended into heaven prior to the event recorded in Acts 1. A number of expositors teach that Christ ascended to heaven on the day of His resurrection based on the implications of John 20:17 and Hebrews 9:6-20. Let me suggest several reasons why this is unlikely:

(1) In Hebrews 9:11-12 the statement, “through His own blood” (or in the KJV, “with His blood”) has been taken to mean Christ took His actual blood into heaven. They say in John 20:17, Christ was telling Mary not to touch Him because this had not yet been done. But the Greek text here uses a construction which means “through the agency of” or “by means of.” It simply means that Christ was able to enter heaven once and for all by means of (or through) His death on the cross.

(2) The Lord did not actually say in John 20:17 He would ascend immediately, or at a time prior to the record in Luke 24 and Acts 1. “I ascend” is a prediction and illustrates what grammarians call a “futuristic use of the present tense.” This is a well established use in the New Testament (cf. A.T. Robertson, A Grammar Of The Greek New Testament In The Light of Historical Research, Broadman Press, p. 880).

(3) The only biblical record we have of His ascension is the one recorded 40 days after the resurrection (Acts 1:9-11Luke 24:50-53). Many able scholars have concluded that it is improbable that Christ ascended in a formal way to heaven until the event of Acts 1.

But that He did ascend and that we have the record is enormously instructive.

This record is a confirmation of the fact of the ascension by those who had access to this information and who very carefully examined the facts (Luke 1:3) And the record of the ascension is such that it gives us important information about its nature and meaning.

The Nature of the Ascension

For the purposes of our study, we are going to focus our attention on the account in Acts 1:6-11.

Acts 1:6-11 And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. “ 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. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; 11 and they also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

First, we want to note the context in which the ascension occurs. This passage shows us there was concern and longing for the restoration of the kingdom of Israel, and so there was the question about when. This would mean the reign of righteousness with Jesus Christ on the throne, and an end to the times of the Gentiles and the turmoil we now know in the world.

The Lord tells the disciples this was all in the Father’s sovereign plan and timing (vs. 7). In the meantime, they had the responsibility of representing the Lord to the world, a responsibility for which they would be adequately supplied by the power of the Holy Spirit once He had come to indwell the church, the body of Christ (vs. 8).

Christ’s ascension is immediately followed by the promise of the Holy Spirit and instructions regarding the purpose and mission of the church. The ascension is designed to provide an incentive to faith, courage, and a motivation to ministry.

Immediately after this commission in verse 8, the ascension occurred. The Lord was lifted up by a cloud of glory out of their sight and taken into heaven. He was ascending to the right hand of the Father from whence He would send the Holy Spirit to empower them for ministry. There also He would sit to represent them providing access into God’s presence.

Let’s note the words used for Christ’s departure and what they teach us.

Verse 9a tells us “He was lifted up.” This is the passive form of the Greek epairo and means “to lift up” as in the hoisting of a sail (Acts 27:40). This stresses that the ascension is upward and shows the Father was taking His Son up into heaven. The ascension was an act of exaltation and an affirmation of Christ’s person.

Verse 9b tells us “a cloud received Him out of their sight.” The Greek word “received” is hupolambano, “to take or bear up by supporting from beneath.” Literally the cloud “took under him.” He appeared to be supported by the cloud.

It appears that once Christ was in the atmospheric heaven, He was received by a cloud. Though we are not told so, this may have been like the cloud connected with the transfiguration, and which descended on the tabernacle in the wilderness and filled Solomon’s temple. Many believe it was the shekinah cloud, a symbol of the glory of God. In other words, it was a supernatural cloud, a symbol of the glorification of the Son. He was resuming His preincarnate glory–the glory He had before the incarnation.

Verse 10 describes the ascent by the words, “while He was departing.” “Departing” is the Greek poreuomai. This was a common word that meant to “go on a journey.” This suggests to us the ascension was a journey, not merely a disappearance. The Son of Man who was the Son of God was passing through the heavens into the heaven of heavens, into the very presence of God to appear there for us (cf. Heb. 4:14; 7:20; 9:24).

Verse 11 describes the ascent by the words, “This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven.” “Taken up” is the Greek analambano, “to receive up.” This is probably best understood as culminative or climatic and describes His reception into heaven. It describes the final results of the ascension and declares the fact of Christ’s arrival in heaven. By the testimony of two angels from heaven we are told He had reached His destination.

Everywhere we turn in the New Testament we find the Lord Jesus declared to be in heaven at the right hand of the Father in the PLACE OF GLORY, POWER, AUTHORITY, AND PROVISION FOR US.

The Response of the Disciples

What happened next is also important. We find the disciples almost trance-like and bewildered, staring after the Lord into the sky. The Greek text indicates they continued to stare or gaze up into heaven. Partly, I am sure because they were amazed and perplexed, but partly because they didn’t want to see Him go. Perhaps also they were waiting to see if He would soon return.

Suddenly, two men in white clothing, angels, messengers from God, appear beside them and address the disciples first with a question and then with a statement of promise.

The Question: “Why do you stand looking into the sky?”

I believe this question shows us how the ascension should and should not affect us. It may have been a gentle rebuke, but I think it is clear that the angels were calling the disciples’ attention to several important principles:

  • We should not be bewildered by the ascension nor stand transfixed or immobile just looking into the heavens. They (and we) should have expected it based on the Old Testament and Christ’s own predictions.SEEING THE LORD AS ASCENDED SHOULD HAVE A DIFFERENT EFFECT ON US.
  • We must know and believe that the ascension and session of the Lord is an important and necessary part in the plan of God for the church and for the world. We must trust in God’s plan. The Lord must be absent from us for a time.
  • The Lord’s departure means Christ’s exalted position in heaven and the promise of His return. But it also means that we have important matters to attend to as His people whom He has left here to represent Him.

The question posed by the angels implies “do you not understand what all this means to you?” It means Christ is exalted, but it also means the promise of His abiding presence with each believer in a very new and special way. It also means His sure return as King of Kings. The promise of His return means the establishment of His kingdom and His sure reward for faithful service with all the glories of the future.

The Reasons for Witnessing the Ascension

No one saw the Lord rise from the dead, but He was seen ascending into heaven by the disciples.

Men saw the results of resurrection–the living, glorified and resurrected Christ. But the act was not seen, only the results. To confirm the resurrection it was not necessary that men see him rise out of the grave. Knowing He was surely dead, men only needed to see clear evidences for the resurrection such as the empty tomb, the grave clothes as they were lying in the tomb, and the risen Christ who appeared over and over again.

By contrast, the disciples saw Christ ascend into heaven–they saw the act of ascension, but not the result–Jesus Christ seated at the right hand of God. This they could not see except by prophetic vision (e.g., Stephen in Acts 7:55-56, John in the book of Revelation, or Paul on the Damascus road).

The act of ascension was necessary to confirm the result–Christ seated. One of the great doctrines of the epistles is Christ seated in heaven, exalted at God’s right hand and the historic act confirms that for us.

The Lord Jesus physically disappeared from off the face of the earth. Where did He go? Where was He? The ascension with the eye witness account of the disciples provides us with the answer and verifies this great doctrine of Scripture.

Christ’s ascension (the act seen) is the proof of the result (Christ seated as the victorious and exalted Savior).

What difference does all this make to us, to the church in the world? What are the consequences of the ascension? The consequences are so tremendous that the ascended and seated Lord becomes one of the great themes of the New Testament. Everywhere we turn we find references of the ascended and seated Christ, and this has all kinds of implications on the individual and corporate life of the church of Jesus

The Results of the Ascension:
Its Consequences

Culminations of the Ascension–what it ended

(1) It ended Christ’s humiliation and self-limitation (John 6:62Phil. 2:5-11).

Even during Christ’s appearances in His post-resurrection ministry, to some extent, He limited the manifestation of His glory. But through the ascension, though still possessing a glorified human body, the Lord assumed all of His former glory and authority.

(2) It ended His public ministry of words and works (John 17:4-11).

The ascension concluded His prophetic ministry and miracles accomplished by His bodily presence on earth (Walvoord, p. 224). His prophetic ministry and miracles would continue for a while, but only through the lives and ministry of the Apostles.

(3) It ended His redemptive work (Heb. 1:3; 10:12).

The ascension declared His work on the cross was finished. It demonstrated that there was nothing more that could be done for our sin and that He and He alone had accomplished our redemption (Note Heb. 9:11-12).

(4) It ended the Old Testament Covenant and declares the New Covenant to be better and in force (Heb. 8:7-13; 9:11-15, 23-10:1).

The ascension declared that the old Mosaic Covenant was no longer valid, that it was only a temporary covenant until Messiah-Savior could come.

Affirmations of the Ascension–what it says and teaches us about the Lord.

It Affirmed Christ’s Identification

It Affirmed Christ as the God-Man (John 6:62). In John 6 we have the great discourse on Christ as the Bread of Life. Because of His unique person, He is able to give eternal life. This is true because He is not mere man, but the God-Man, the one who came down from heaven. This was difficult to grasp and some grumbled over it. So what did the Lord do? He spoke of His ascension as proof of His origin. The ascension, like the resurrection, would prove His divine origin and that He had been sent of God to solve man’s sin problem.

It Affirmed Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King

(1) As Prophet

In John 3:2, the words “a teacher come from God” set the stage for this encounter. First, it shows his inadequate understanding of the person of Jesus. Christ sought to eliminate an incomplete grasp of His person because this is essential to faith and salvation. A teacher is a communicator of truth and Christ will show Nicodemus why He is able, above all teachers, to reveal God’s truth.

In John 3:13 our Lord shows Nicodemus He has the right and ability to explain and reveal heavenly truth because He is the true prophet, the one who came from heaven and who, following His finished work on the cross, would return–the proof that He had truly come from God. Note Peter’s grasp of this in Acts 3:19-26. (Cf. also John 3:13; 16:7, compare with 12f; 6:14)

As the great prophet and revealer of truth, He would continue this ministry through the apostles via the Holy Spirit (John 16:7, 12f).

(2) As Priest

Jesus’ ascension and return to the Father would demonstrate that He had successfully, as our great and righteous High Priest, offered the one sacrifice that effectively deals with man’s sin and provides justification–righteousness with God. (Cf. Heb. 8:1-2; 9:11-12; John 16:10)

In John 13:1-3 the ascension is mentioned twice because it is on the basis of His work as Priest (Christ in the presence of the Father) that He would be able to continue His ministry as our High Priest and provide continual cleansing. On the basis of His confidence in the ascension, He performed an act which symbolized His continuing ministry of cleansing us as our advocate in heaven at God’s right hand (John 13:4f, cf. 1 John 2:1-2).

(3) As King

In answer to who He was, Christ again made reference to His ascended and exalted position at God’s right hand, only now in connection with His second coming from that ascended and exalted position as King of kings. (Cf. Matt. 26:64.)

It Affirmed Christ’s Exaltation

As with the vision of Isaiah, it declared the Lord Jesus, the God-Man Savior, as high and lifted up. This included the following:

  • His Glorification (John 17:5Acts 7:55Rev. 1:12-16) It meant a return to His pre-incarnate glory, but it also constituted a glorification of His humanity where He is the Forerunner of all believers who will follow.
  • His Session (Eph. 1:20-23Phil. 2:9Heb. 1:31 Pet. 3:22) It declared that He was in heaven, at God’s right hand, the place of the highest honor and authority. It means the possession of the throne of God without dispossession of the father. It means all glory, authority and power is shared by the father with the Son.
  • His Intercession and Protection over His own (John 17:11f; Rom. 8:32f; Heb. 4:14-16) It affirms His continuing ministry for us at God’s right hand: kept by His presence with the Father and His work as High Priest. In this regard, it declares we have an advocate with the Father and a compassionate High Priest, one who cares for us with the greatest compassion and who both intercedes for us when we sin and prays for us in our need.
  • His Provision for spiritual power (John 14:25-26; 16:7-10: Luke 24:49f; Acts. 1:8-11) It provided the means of His gift of the Comforter. Without the ascension, there would be none of the ministries of the Holy Spirit as we know it today: no indwelling, no baptism into Christ, and no filling. This would mean the absence of power over sin and power for witnessing. We would be a helpless people.
  • His Distribution (Eph. 4:7-11) It affirmed His right to give gifts to His church.
  • His Preparation (John 14:3,4) It affirms His promise to prepare a home for His bride. When we lose a loved one who knows the Lord, one of the great comforts is the fact that our loved one has actually gone home and that we will someday be joining them.
  • Commission (Matt. 28:19f; Luke 24:44f; John 12:32; 14:12; 17:11-23; Mark 16:19-20). By His commission I am referring to His earthly ministry and that He intends to continue this through the church. Continue it through you and me as we make ourselves available to Him as the risen and ascended Lord through the Holy Spirit His gift for ministry. As with Isaiah, this vision of Christ and its consequences to us, should mean “here am I Lord, send me; do with me according to your purpose.”
It Affirms the Need of Celebration

It affirms our need to celebrate and respond in the worship of the Savior. Remember, worship is not just something we do in some special place. Worship may, as with Israel, be merely external and religious formalism. (Cf. Luke 24:51-53Col. 3:1)

True worship involves something we are, a people who count on the worth of God for the totality of our lives. Worship includes hearing God’s Word, confessing our sin, prayer, praise, singing and making melody in our hearts, but all of this can be mere religiosity.

What we must see is that true worship means we think, respond and act on the fact of our ascended Lord with obedience, with commitment, and availability to the plan of God for our lives.

It Affords Us With Motivation and Courage

The ascension provides every reason why we should endure and be bold in service for the Lord knowing that our labor is never in vain in the Lord. (Cf. Mat. 28:19Heb. 12:1,2).

It Affirms His Inauguration as King

The ascension anticipates the establishment of His kingdom and the fact that we will have the privilege of reigning with Him in the millennium and the eternal kingdom of the new heavens and earth. (Cf. John 14:28; 16:16;Acts. 1:11Ps. 110:1Heb. 1:13Rev. 5:1-11.)

It Demands a Response

Because of what the ascension means, it demands a response from us to the person and work of Christ. (John 6:62) Failing to assimilate the truth of Christ as the Bread of Life, as the source of our spiritual nourishment and life through feeding on Him by faith and study, the Lord challenged His audience (and challenges us) with these words: “What then if you should behold the Son of Man ascending where He was before?”

The Record of the Ascension of Jesus Part 1

Photo via hubpages.com

A study by  J. Hampton Keathley, III at Bible.org

Tomorrow in Part 2 – The Record of Jesus’ ascension.

Seeing the Lord High and Exalted
(Isaiah 6)

I would like to introduce this study on the ascension of Christ with a brief look at Isaiah 6. This passage gives us a vision of the incomparable majesty of God, and in the process sets forth a number of contrasts between:

  • The human and the divine
  • The temporal and the eternal
  • The earthly and the heavenly

Isaiah 6:1-13 In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, with a burning coal in his hand which he had taken from the altar with tongs. And he touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ 10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Lest they see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people, And the land is utterly desolate, 12 “The LORD has removed men far away, And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. 13 “Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, And it will again be subject to burning, Like a terebinth or an oak Whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump.”

Isaiah’s vision, with its contrasts, is both timely and vital for believers of any age and time–but especially in times like these when our nation is literally on the skids spiritually, morally, and politically. The passage consists of REVELATION from God followed by a RESPONSE with specific RESULTS in the life of Isaiah.

God’s revelation always demands a response consistent with His revelation. Isaiah 6 contains a:

  • VISION–God’s REVELATION of Himself to Isaiah,
  • VERDICT–Isaiah’s RESPONSE by way of a confession of his and his people’s sinfulness, and
  • VOCATION–the RESULT, Isaiah’s commissioning and commitment of His life to the purpose of God.

In verse 1 the Hebrew text literally reads, “in the death year of King Uzziah.” This is emphatic and shortened for emphasis and effect. We would normally expect something like, “and it came to pass” as in Isaiah 7:1. The important point is that this vision of the heavenly king, the sovereign of the universe, came in the same year of this earthly king’s death.

This is important to note because it dramatically ties the vision to a critical moment in the spiritual and political history of the nation. Under King Uzziah Judah had experienced prosperous times. This King had extended the country’s boundaries to is ancient limits. Commerce and agriculture flourished, and the two nations, (Judah and Israel) were at peace. But more importantly, King Uzziah had established spiritual renewal. He had removed much of the idolatry and established spiritual reforms. He had sought to bring the people back to the Word of God.

But without King Uzziah’s leadership (which sought to bring the people back to God and His Word) these conditions would fast erode for there were already signs of spiritual lethargy and mere externalism in their religious life. Judah’s prosperity had degenerated into softness, luxurious living, and complacency toward God and their calling as a priesthood nation. Worship had been maintained with external regularity and religious precision–but they were keeping their hearts far from God. So, with King Uzziah’s death, apostasy could very well increase fast . As Isaiah considered the death of Uzziah, he must have thought that things could really go to the dogs.

Moreover, Assyria, a cruel, ruthless, and hungry tyrant, was increasing in power like a huge beast ready to pounce on all the nations of Palestine. So, it was a critical time, a time that not only involved the death of a godly king, but a time that foresaw the death of a nation as it turned not only away from the Lord but to the idolatrous influences from the East.

As we think about our own country today and see what is happening on every front, it is frightening, discouraging, and frustrating. We see the influx of the New Age movement and the tremendous rise of all the cults; the unisex issue; the abortion problem; the drug problem; the gay movement that has become politically powerful; the multi-billion dollar rock music industry with its blatant attacks on Jesus Christ and its emphasis on rebellion, violence, hedonism, and sex. We see the violence in our streets, especially on the rise among our young teens; the corruption in business and politics; an almost complete loss of moral values; the divorce rate and the break up of the home including abuse of women and children; and the failure of the church to make a significant difference.

But in the midst of the problems of Isaiah’s day, he was given a vision, one that we need perhaps more than Isaiah did. So note what we read next.

“I saw the Lord sitting . . .” Literally the text reads, “I saw also . . .” or “and then I saw the Lord.” In other words, against the backdrop of the problems of his day, Isaiah also saw the LORD. He saw the Lord “sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted” or “seated on a throne, high and exalted” (NIV). In other words, regardless of what was happening in the nation and on this earth, God was on the throne carrying out His purposes.

Psalm 103:19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all. (NASB)

This revelation of the Lord turns our attention from the HUMAN and the EARTHLY to the DIVINE and the HEAVENLY–from the CHAOTIC and DEGENERATE to the PEACEFUL and HOLY. This passage gives us heaven’s perspective and the effect this should have on us as the people of God whom God has left here to represent Him. Let us gaze into heaven through the lens of Scripture to see our ascended and seated Lord, high and lifted up. And also, let us begin to see (1) what this means to us by way of blessings and privileges and (2) what effect this should have on us as the people of God.

In view of the phrase, “lofty and exalted” in Isaiah 6:1, let’s note the same phrase in Isaiah 52:13.

Isaiah 52:13 Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is a prophecy of the suffering Servant of the Lord who must die for our sin, but at the very beginning of this passage, it anticipates His victory and exaltation or ascension.

The ascension of the Savior is a very important event which accomplished some wonderful and awesome things in the plan of God.

On Easter we commemorate the resurrection of Christ–one of the four greatest events in human history since the creation of man. The others include:

1. The first great event, and one anticipated since the fall of man, is the incarnation–the moment in time when God descended to earth in the person of His Son to become true, yet sinless humanity.

2. The second great event is the cross when the God-Man Savior died for our sins–the innocent bearing the penalty of the guilty.

3. The third great event is the resurrection, when Jesus Christ was raised from death by the glory of the Father.

4. “In our culture, as in most cultures around the world, the ultimate symbol of foreboding and despair is the grave . . . Yet the Bible shows us a grave–and empty grave–which is the picture of ultimate hope” (Donald K. Campbell, Seminary Easter Card, 1988).

But why was Christ raised from the grave? (1) To prove who He was–the eternal Son of God, and (2) to confirm the value of His death. But there is another important reason for the resurrection, (3) that Jesus Christ might, as the glorified and victorious Savior, ascend into the very presence of God, thus, opening the way for others to follow.

Many studies of the life of Christ trace His life and ministry beginning at Bethlehem and ending with the ascension. But Christ’s life existed from all eternity and continues into the eternal future. The ascension is the connecting link, the link between the past ministry of Christ and His future ministry.

“The ascension is not only a great FACT of the New Testament, but a greater FACTOR in the life of Christ and Christians, and no complete view of Jesus Christ is possible unless the ascension and its consequences are included” (ISBE, Griffith Thomas, Vol. 1, p. 263).

When you think of Christ, how do you think of Him? As the babe lying in the manger? Do you think of Him in terms of His ministry on earth and His mighty words and works? Or perhaps you think of Him as the one who died and rose again. There are many ways we may (and should) think about Jesus Christ and that we do so is tremendously important to the issues of life . . . assuming we come up with the right verdict.

In view of the Easter season and in view of the moral decay of our nation, I’d like to invite you to think especially of Jesus Christ as one who ascended into heaven. We want to be able to answer our Lord’s very provocative question, “What then if you should see the Son of Man ascending where He was before?” In other words, what does the ascension mean to us? What differences should it make in our belief and behavior?

We need to answer this question because it is tremendously important (1) to the impact of Christ on our daily lives, (2) to our courage and the enjoyment of our salvation in Christ, and (3) for our effectiveness in the mission of the Great Commission to which Christ has called each of us.

IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT, LIKE ISAIAH, WE SEE JESUS EXALTED OR HIGH AND LIFTED UP REGARDLESS OF WHAT IS HAPPENING ON EARTH.

The ascension, as one of the important truths of the Bible, occupies a large portion in the Word of God. Our study will demonstrate just why this is so, but let’s look at two passages that demonstrate our need to know and personally relate our lives to Jesus Christ–not only as the one who died and rose from the grave, but also as the ascended Lord.

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.’”

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Paul is saying that we know him no longer as just a man, indeed He is the God-Man, but he is also saying that we know Him no longer as the one who came to earth in the flesh. We must know Him now as the ascended, exalted, glorified Savior.

By the word “ascension” we mean the removal of Jesus Christ from this earth into a different place and sphere which we call heaven. A place seen by Isaiah as high and exalted, a place of sovereign control and authority. It is a removal, a change of position and locale which is of the utmost importance both to God and to man.

The ascension completes the resurrection. Without the resurrection Christ’s death would be meaningless as far as the great issues of life are concerned. And without the ascension, the resurrection would also be incomplete and meaningless. We would have a resurrected person, but not one who was now at God’s right hand in the place of authority.

Please note the progression:

  • First there is Christ’s descent to earth–God becoming man, the incarnation.
  • This is followed by Christ’s death and resurrection as the God-Man Savior.
  • But for God’s purposes to be fulfilled and our need supplied, there must also be Christ’s ascent into heaven as the God-Man Savior and King of His people.

“The ascension is the important link between His work on earth and His work in heaven which begins with the ascension” (Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord, p. 224).

It is important to remember that the New Testament was written by men who were thoroughly convinced that Jesus was at the right hand of the Father, and that through the ministry of the Holy Spirit they were in union with this ascended Lord and were, by His commission and through His ascended authority and power, left here to continue the work which He began.

In relation to the ascension, the Lord said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me.” The ascension means the Lord’s physical removal from His people on earth and from this present state of affairs, “but the spiritual value of the Ascension lies not in Christ’s physical remoteness, but in His spiritual nearness. He is free from earthly limitations, and His life above is the promise and guarantee” (Thomas, p. 265) not only life and life eternal, but it is also the proof of our purpose and the promise of capacity for ministry as His people.

Jesus said, “Because I live you shall live also.” But in the total context of the New Testament, this refers not only to the resurrection but to His continued life as the ascended and seated Lord of the church and the universe.

The Christ of the Gospels is the Christ of the past, the eternal past and the historic past, “but the full New Testament picture of Christ is that of a living Christ , the Christ of heaven, the Christ of experience, the Christ of the present and the future” (Griffith Thomas, p. 263).

We must not miss the connection between Isaiah’s VISION and his VOCATION. It had the right impact on the prophet’s life. The Gospel ends with the promise of Christ’s authority as the ascended Lord, the gift of the Spirit, and the Great Commission (God’s calling on our lives). It did not end with the promise of peace and prosperity, which is so often the emphasis in our culture. It ended with the fact and picture of an ascended, sovereign LORD who has commissioned us to live for Him.

If we are to endure and carry on in this sin-ridden world, running the race God has laid out before us, we need to see Jesus Christ. We must fix our gaze on Him, but how are we to do that?

The Ascent of Joy by John Piper (on Jesus’ Ascension forty days after the Resurrection)

You can listen to the sermon audio from  DesiringGod.org. –The Ascent of Joy.

Luke 24:44-53

And Jesus said to them, „These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you that, everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures and said to them, „Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are my witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.”

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.

In the book of Acts, which Luke writes to continue his account of Jesus’ work in history (by his Spirit), he says (1:1–3):

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.

Therefore, we learn that the ascension of Jesus back to the right hand of God the Father occurred forty days after the resurrection. Had it been Easter 1981 when Jesus was raised from the dead, the ascension would have occurred last Friday, day before yesterday. And had we been among the disciples, we would now find ourselves waiting in Jerusalem for the outpouring of God’s Spirit which came about ten days later on Pentecost. Therefore, today I want to focus our attention on the ascension of Jesus, and next Sunday on the meaning of Pentecost.

Mai mult

The Last Instructions of Jesus (Tenth Resurrection Appearance) and His Ascension

After Jesus’ resurrection, he was on earth for 40 days (Acts 1:3), then He led His followers out to Bethany, just outside Jerusalem, and „lifting up His hands, He blessed them. While He blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51).
John 21:1-23 relates the story of the last appearance of Jesus after His     resurrection.  Then Matthew’s center of these instructions is the future mission to spread the good news through baptism and teaching (Matthew 28:18-20). In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus teaches them to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins  (Matthew 24:47). In the fourth Gospel, Jesus breathes on the disciples the Holy Spirit, thereby empowering them to continue his mission, including the forgiveness of sins (John 20:22-23).

TENTH  RESURRECTION  APPEARANCE

From the upper room to the Mount of Olives. Mark 16:19, 20  Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:4-11.

A. Jesus blesses them and promises the baptism of the Spirit.

B. He orders them to witness for Him:

  1. In Jerusalem
  2. In Judea
  3. In Samaria
  4. unto the uppermost parts of the earth.

C. He is received up into glory to the right hand of the Father.

D. This is the Old Testament Prophecy fulfillment number 38, that He would ascend. (Compare Psalm 24:7-10 with Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51). Did the resurrected Christ appear before any unsaved individuals? On the strength of Matthew 23:37-39 it would seem He did not.

„O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

These words conclude  the Bible’s account of the greatest  life that was ever lived. It should, however be said that His glory story is not limited to the four Gospel accounts. In fact, each of the sixty-six Biblical books presents a glimpse of this marvelous and mighty Messiah. Note the following „scriptural summary of the Savior”:

Christ in every book (of the Bible)

Christ is the theme of the entire revelation of God. He is promised in Genesis, revealed in the Law, prefigured in its history, praised in poetry, proclaimed in its prophecy, provided in its Gospels, proved in its Acts, preeminent in its Epistles and prevailing in Revelation.

(thanks to Gabi Bogdan for above video, illustrating Christ in every book, through song)

He is seen in every book of the Bible. Take a journey through the Halls of Holy Writ and and in every one of them you will see Christ. Starting with Genesis He is the seed of the woman; in Exodus the Lamb for sinners slain; in Leviticus, our High Priest; in Numbers, the Star of Jacob and the Brazen Serpent; in Deuteronomy,  the Prophet like unto Moses and the Great Rock; in Joshua, the Captain of the Lord’s Hosts; in Judges the Messenger of Jehovah; in Ruth our Kinsman-Redeemer and the Faithful Bridegroom; in 1 Samuel He is seen as the Great Judge; in 2 Samuel as the Princely King; in 1st Kings as David’s Choice; in  2 Kings as the Holiest of All; in 1 Chronicles as King by Birth; in 2 Chronicles as King by Judgement.

In Ezra He is seen as Lord of heaven and earth; in Nehemiah as builder; in Esther our Mordecai; in Job our Daysman and our Risen,  returning Redeemer; in Psalms the Son of God and the Good Shepherd; in Proverbs our Wisdom; in Ecclesiastes as the One above the sun; in Song of Solomon the great Church lover; the one Altogether Lovely and the Chiefest among ten thousand. (VIA)

The ascent into heaven

Only Mark (longer version) and Luke include an account of the ascension. For the other evangelists, Jesus’ return to the Father is taken for granted (implied). Luke wants both to round up (finish) his Gospel and to provide a link with his second volume, The Acts of the Apostles. Favorite themes, first appearing in his infancy narratives, are all fitted into these final two verses–journey, Jerusalem, rejoicing, prayers of praise(Luke 24:52-53). Jesus is portrayed as lifting His hands in blessing over the small group of disciples; in Acts 1:6-11, He will commission them to extend this blessing to the entire world and thus throughout the ages. (VIA)

Blogosfera Evanghelică

Vizite unicate din Martie 6,2011

free counters

Va multumim ca ne-ati vizitat azi!


România – LIVE webcams de la orase mari