Day 40: Acts 1:1-11
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.”
The Ascension of Jesus is one of the most mysterious and mystical stories of the Christian faith. After appearing over a period of 40 days to his disciples post-resurrection, Luke tells us in the beginning of Acts that while Jesus was meeting with his disciples he ascended into the sky before their eyes. We have yet to find the body of Jesus in orbit, and so we are forced to wrestle with the question – what does the ascension mean for we who are living on this Earth?
After being raised from the dead, the disciples questioned whether or not Jesus’ body was real. If you remember, Jesus encouraged the disciples to put their hands on his scars, and he even shared meals with them proving that he was more than a hologram in his resurrected state. As was the case with Elijah the prophet, we then read that Jesus did not die or experience physical death to bring his earthly existence to finality a second time, but he was taken up into heaven.
The Apostle Paul teaches that we too will one day experience physical resurrection and ascension. In the fourth chapter of his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes that at the end, those who have died in Christ will rise from the dead, and then those who are living will meet the Lord in the air. Because of Christ’s resurrection and ascension, we believe and have hope that we will experience a physical reality of unity with Christ after death. Death and decay do not have the final word on our existence. Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end.
Jonathan Burkey | Worship Pastor, Lima Community Church