Ascension of the Lord | May 30, 2019
Luke 24:44-53 New Living Translation (NLT)
44 Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. 47 It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ 48 You are witnesses of all these things.
49 “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”
50 Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, he blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. 52 So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. 53 And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God.
Today is Ascension Day – 40 days since Easter – 10 days before Pentecost. Jesus had gathered his disciples on the Mount of Olives and gives them some parting instructions. This event is important enough that Luke records it both in his gospel of Luke and in the first chapter of Acts.
(The first version of this didn’t post – so I’m trying again.)
There are three things that Jesus mentions in these final words – the Gospel of Jesus – that he would suffer, die, and then rise again on the third day; That He was giving authority to the disciples to proclaim this gospel; thirdly, he told them that they would be able to proclaim this gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit.
As Paul writes in Ephesians:
19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.Ephesians 1:19-20
It was through the Holy Spirit that Jesus received His power while here on earth. Remember Paul also tells us that Jesus humbled himself to the point of being a slave – with no power – even obedience in death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8.) It was the Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead. We are told that the same power that raised Christ from the dead also dwells in us. Jesus told His disciples that unless He went away, the Holy Spirit couldn’t come. This Holy Spirit would dwell in the hearts of all his people. It is this Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead that gives us power to be witnesses to the story of Jesus. Jesus tells his disciples:
46 And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. 47 It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’Luke 24:46-47
Jesus wants the people who call themselves Christians – or Christ-followers to be witnesses to the power and authority of the Gospel. When ministers are ordained, they are commanded to:
take authority to preach the Word of God, to administer the holy sacraments, and to perform the duties of an ordained minister in the Church.
On the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave this authority to everyone who was a witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Even though we are now many generations removed from that moment – through the power of the Word (Jesus) we have been given authority to do the same – in the same power that raise Jesus from the dead. So what are we waiting for?