Ascension Day Matters
Today’s Text: Acts 1:9-11
Exactly forty days after His resurrection, the disciples watched as Jesus bodily ascended into heaven. Moments earlier, the Lord had given final instructions with a promise that the Holy Spirit would baptize and empower them in a few days. The disciples were instructed to wait (Acts 1:4, TLV).
The apostle Luke gives a personal account:
“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Jesus did not vanish or dematerialize in the presence of the disciples gathered around Him. They saw the Lord defy gravity and lift from the surface of the earth high into the sky until a cloud obscured their view.
As they strained to catch another glimpse, two angels dressed in white clothing suddenly appeared on the scene. They jolted the disciples from their bewilderment with a question followed by a revelation concerning Jesus:
“Men of Galilee, why do you keep standing here staring into heaven?
This Yeshua, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11, TLV).
THE ANGELIC REVELATION
The angels’ prophetic message revealed that Jesus’ absence would not be permanent. He was returning!
Rather than sending a representative or emissary, Jesus will physically return to establish His kingdom on earth. Approximately 550 years earlier, the prophet Zechariah foretold,
“And in that day His [Messiah’s] feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east” (Zech. 14:4).
Jesus physically ascended into heaven from the precise location of the return prophesied by Zechariah and revealed by the two angels.
Two events shape the Christian’s expectation of Jesus’ return.
The first—commonly called the Rapture—is the imminent and instantaneous snatching of the church from the earth to meet the Lord in the air. Logic suggests that the split-second timing of the Rapture will leave the earth’s population wondering what happened (1 Cor. 15:52).
The second—appropriately termed the Second Coming—will be a spectacular event visible to the entire population of Planet Earth. The Second Coming is the still future event the angels revealed as they encouraged the disciples following Christ’s ascension.
Matthew communicated graphic details about the Second Coming:
“For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Mt. 24:27).
Daniel also foresaw and described the visible return of Messiah to establish His earthly Kingdom:
“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!” (Dan. 7:13).
In the final book of the New Testament, John recorded his vision of the revelation of Jesus Christ.
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him . . .” (Rev. 1:7).
A heavenly processional—with Jesus at the head followed by the angelic host and redeemed saints of every age—will approach earth through the vastness of space (Rev. 19:11-16).
As the procession nears the planet, every living human being will witness the event (Mt. 24:29-30).
CELEBRATE ASCENSION DAY
Ascension Day is mostly a neglected celebration in much of Christendom today. Biblically authentic Christians, however, are quick to recognize the relevance to 21st century living.
Ascension Day matters because it’s an annual reminder to live with expectancy! And with that knowledge, it is appropriate to mark Ascension Day with related festivities. Titus, a Greek pastor and recipient of the New Testament letter that bears his name, indirectly provides perspective:
“we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:12-13).
Use Ascension Day on May 10, 2018 to focus on God’s Word with your family and friends. And then, expectantly look for His return because the day Jesus Christ ascended into heaven is not the end of the story!
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. With 40 plus years of ministry experience, Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added.)
1) L’Ascension (The Ascension). By James Tissot. [No restrictions; Public domain] via Brooklyn Museum – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) The Ascension. By James Tissot. [No restrictions, Public domain], via Brooklyn Museum – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
Categories: ASCENSION DAY