The Ascension of Jesus Christ
The life of Jesus Christ can be told as four great miracles: Incarnation, resurrection, ascension and second coming. Much have been said about His incarnation which is even commercialized worldwide as Christmas. His resurrection and second coming is also very popular. However, His ascension is somehow not given much attention and emphasis. Ascension is a very important doctrine. Because of it, we now know Christ as the ascended, exalted, and glorified Saviour. Today we are going to see what the Word of God teach us about the Lord’s ascension into heaven.
A. Ascension is that event in which Christ departed visibly and returned to heaven.
B. Ascending upward. Chiefly a reference to Jesus’ bodily ascension to Heaven after His resurrection (Acts 1:9; Jn. 6:62; Acts 2:33-34). Other Bible ascensions include Enoch (Gen. 5:18-24; Heb. 11:5) and Elijah (2 Ki 2:9-13).
II. Old Testament Prophecies about the Ascension:
A. Psalms 24:7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
B. Psalms 68:18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.
C. The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. After His ascension He sat at the right hand of the Father in heaven
III. Jesus Prophesied and foretold His coming Ascension
A. John 6:62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
B. John 7:33 Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me.
C. John 14:28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
D. See also Jn. 16:5; 20:17
Illustration: Accurate prophecies
Dr. Charles Ryrie says that according to the laws of chance, it would require two hundred billion earths, populated with four billion people each, to come up with one person whose life could fulfill one hundred accurate prophecies without any errors in sequence. Yet the Scriptures record not one hundred, but over three hundred prophecies that were fulfilled in Christ’s first coming alone.
The Old Testament spoke of it and Jesus taught freely of His ascension.
The disciples probably didn’t understand it, the same as they did not understand the truths of His death, burial and resurrection.
IV. Description of the Ascension
A. Acts 1:9-11 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same
Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
B. The description can be summarized in two words: He ascended visibly and bodily.
C. The ascension was visible, not secret. It was seen and witnessed by the apostles.
D. Jesus Christ left personally, visibly and bodily and in like manner will He return in the Second Advent to this earth.
E. The Lord was lifted up by a cloud out of their sight and taken into heaven. He was ascending to the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:55-56, Heb. 10:22) from whence He would send the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:7) to empower His disciples for ministry.
V. Why Ascension took place forty days after the resurrection:
A. To prove and to show that He had actually risen from the dead. This was essential to establish the faith of the believers.
B. He tarried in order to give the disciples more instructions in the Christian faith.
C. In the post-resurrection period Jesus was able to explain much of His past teaching in the light of that which occurred —His own death, burial and resurrection.
Acts 1:3 “To whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”
VI. Results of His Ascension
A. The exaltation of Christ.
1. His exaltation refers to His return to the glory which He had before coming to this world.
2. His exaltation is set forth in verses Heb. 2:9 where we read that He was “crowned with glory and honour.
3. Heb. 4:14 says that He was passed into heavens or gone into heavens
4. Heb. 10:12 tells that He sat down on the right hand of God;
B. Christ became the head of the Church
According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, Peter replaced Christ on earth as the head of the church. The Pope is said to be the “Vicar of Christ on earth”. This teaching opposes what Paul writes in Eph. 1:20-23. Paul said that after Christ was raised from the dead He became “head over all things to the church”. This means that Christ today is the only true Head of the Church. The teaching of the Catholic Church is absolutely wrong!!!
C. Christ has provided gifts for the Church. He gave gifts to men. Ephesians 4:8 “When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” What gifts? Verse 11 – 12 says apostles, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
D. All creation will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. Philippians 2:9-11 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
E. Because He has ascended He can now save to the uttermost, Hebrews 7:25. He can lift a sinner from his sinful ways and world to be with Him in heaven.
The basis of our faith includes not only the death and his resurrection but also His ascension and exaltation to the place at the right hand of God. This demands a response from us to the person and work of Christ. Have you received Christ as your personal Saviour?