Today is one of the most significant days of the church calendar and yet a day so often overlooked – today is Ascension Day. After Jesus was resurrected, He presented Himself alive to various individuals and groups, once to more than 500, erasing all doubt that He was actually alive. He came and went indiscriminately for forty days teaching His disciples about the Kingdom of God. Unfortunately, the disciples still were confused about the Kingdom Jesus was promoting evidenced through their question to Him recorded for us in Acts 1:6. The Kingdom of God Jesus endorsed was not an earthly kingdom but a spiritual Kingdom established in the hearts and lives of His followers where God rules as King.
Jesus gave His marching orders to His followers instructing them to wait in Jerusalem for the power of the Holy Spirit to indwell them and then to serve as His witnesses starting at home and then sharing the “Good News” of Him to everyone, ultimately extending to the ends of the earth. Jesus blessed them and then bodily and visibly ascended into the clouds. As Jesus’ followers stood there gazing into the clouds two angels rebuked them for just gazing upward reassuring them that He would return in the same way He had gone – physically and visibly. The gospel writer Luke records that Jesus’ followers then returned to Jerusalem “filled with great joy.” That phrase always confused me, why would Jesus’ followers be filled with great joy knowing that Jesus would not be physically with them anymore? Perhaps they believed His return would happen almost immediately or they anticipated the coming power of the indwelling Holy Spirit which caused them to have a great joy of expectancy…? (If only we today would live in the joy of the benefits of the indwelling Holy Spirit!)
Ascension Day holds great significance for several reasons: It signals the successful end of Jesus’ earthly ministry – It marks the exultation of God the Son by God the Father – It allows Jesus to prepare an eternal place for His followers – It indicates Jesus’ beginning work as High Priest and mediator of the New Covenant for all His followers – It serves as a transfer of the honor of ministry from Jesus to His followers.
Today as you consider pausing at noon to Bend-A-Knee in prayer may you thank God for the privilege of being passed the baton of Jesus’ ministry. Equipped through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, you have everything you need to continue His work, advancing God’s Kingdom. Realize that you are not alone in this mission but join together with other “believers” to continue the cause of Christ giving honor & glory to His glorious name.
Stay connected to God & to others