The circle of life
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
(Luke 24:50-53 NIV)
Luke 24 shows us that understanding Jesus’ completed earthly ministry is something that will result in worship. Moreover, when Jesus revealed the truth of the scriptures to his disciples he told them they would receive the Holy Spirit and would then be witnesses of the wonderful truth of the Gospel, (vv. 45-49). This became a reality when the day of Pentecost came ten days after Jesus’ ascension. We now follow in the disciples’ footsteps, as people filled with the Holy Spirit, praising God and telling others of the good news of what has been accomplished for us by Jesus.
What is Jesus doing now? He has gone to prepare a place for us in heaven (John 14:3), and he intercedes for us before God the Father (Hebrews 7:25).
As well as what Jesus did for us when he was here on earth, and what he is doing for us now, there is good news for the future. The account of the ascension in the first chapter of Acts tells us how Jesus will return to earth in the same way he left. (Acts 1:11). 1 Corinthians 15:52 speaks of how we will be brought to life to be with Jesus. Philippians 2:9 proclaims, ‘…God exalted him to the highest place’ and ‘…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow’ (v.10), and ‘…every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.’ (v.11).
In summary, while the ascension of Jesus may have been the end of his earthly ministry, it’s not the end of the story. He is working in heaven on our behalf, as we, empowered by the Holy Spirit that he sent, live lives of worship and proclamation of him. Yet even this is only a temporary phase, as we look forward to being with Jesus upon his return, in a time of “ ‘…no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain…” (Revelation 21:4).
The ascension is a vital part of Jesus’ ministry: he ‘came down from heaven’; ‘suffered death and was buried’; ‘on the third day he rose again’; ‘he ascended into heaven’; ‘he will come again in glory’, and ‘his kingdom will have no end’. (Excerpts from the Nicene Creed).
So this Ascension Day, let’s praise Jesus and be witnesses of him, because of what he has done, because of what he continues to do, and because of what he will do in the future for us all.
Father, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus. Thank you for his life, death, resurrection and ascension. Thank you for his continuing ministry on our behalf. And thank you that he will return in glory. In his name we pray, Amen.
Study by Anthony Dady
About the writer:
Anthony Dady is a minister in Grace Communion International and is the Regional Pastor for Wales, the Midlands, and Northern England.
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