Honestly, if Ascension Day didn’t appear on our calendars 40 days after Easter, we’d likely never think about it. Sure, we know Jesus’ ascension had good reasons. But hey, we’re still stuck on earth.
In fact, have you ever wondered why we don’t we just ascend to heaven after we believe in Jesus?
The answer, of course, is that God’s goal for us is more than to believe in His Son. Jesus’ final words remind us of that.
Ascension Day offers a few good reminders.
The Original Ascension Day
During Christ’s entire ministry, the apostles had as their main concern their own roles of leadership in God’s kingdom. So, it’s no surprise they asked Jesus about it again after His resurrection.
His answer, however, rebooted their priorities:
It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. —Acts 1:7–8
In realigning their priorities the Lord also realigns ours.
3 Lessons from Ascension Day
1. Look Up: It’s not about the when—but the what.
Granted, now that Easter was over the timing made sense to the disciples.
- Now that the prophecies of the suffering of Christ were fulfilled, the promises of the kingdom of God could begin! (And the apostles could get busy ruling alongside Jesus.)
- However, the Old Testament promised the blessings of the Kingdom to more than just the apostles and the believing Jews. “All the nations will be blessed in you,” the Lord assured Abraham (Gal. 3:8).
In our impatience, we care a lot about timing. “Is it now, Lord?” Jesus redirected their when to an issue of what.
In between His going and His coming, Jesus has given us the job of being His witnesses. Just like the apostles, we can quickly crave the blessings of our own lives without considering the condition of others.
- Could Christ be waiting for us to share with a certain person before He comes?
- How would we have felt if other believers had asked Christ to come just prior to our conversion?
2. Look Around: Our purpose begins where we are.
Jesus’ final words to His Church—“be my witnesses”—came as a commission outlined by geographical parameters. The book of Acts reveals how the Holy Spirit used the Church to spread the gospel message successively:
- In Jerusalem (see Acts 1:1–6:7).
- Throughout Judea and in Samaria (Acts 6:8–9:31).
- To the ends of the earth (Acts 9:32–28:31).
Like ripples in a pond, the good news went out—but the splash began in Jerusalem. That’s right where we are today.
Preach the gospel every day; if necessary, use words. —Francis of Assisi
3. Look Forward: Jesus will also return one day for all Christians.
The coming of our Lord Jesus has at least two emphases we should consider:
- It will be a day of joy where all our tears will be gone. For this reason it is called the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). We set our hopes on this day above all others.
- It will be a day of accountability. Immediately following the rapture comes the judgment seat of Christ. This is a judgment of Christians—not for our sins (that occurred on the cross) but for our motives in serving God in our lifetimes. How have we used the time we have most effectively?
Our purpose in life finds its answer in Jesus’ final words. Ascension Day is a wonderful time to look up, to look around, and to look forward.
Tell me what you think: What does Ascension Day make you think of? To leave a comment, just click here.