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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE ASCENSION OF JESUS

Acts 1:9-12 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 steadfastly 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. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a Sabbath day's journey. (Also See Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:50-53; John 23:30-31; 21:25; Acts 1:1-8)

Paraphrasing the first eight verses of the Acts of the Apostles, we find Luke telling us the things that occurred immediately before Jesus' ascension back into heaven, from which He had originally descended, being miraculously born of the virgin Mary. The instructions that He gave to His apostles had been received from the Holy Spirit of God. For forty days after His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus was seen alive, established Himself as the risen Savior by many infallible proofs, and taught His apostles and many others of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. His final instruction to them was to return to Jerusalem and wait there until ye have heard of Me. When Jesus appeared to them in this holy city, they asked Him, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? He replied, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. Before these apostles were to go and teach the world God's gospel message of salvation, Jesus told them that ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (See Acts 1:1-8).

Then beginning with the lesson text, Luke wrote that immediately after Jesus had given His apostles these final instructions, and while they were watching His every action, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Mark wrote that after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God (Mark 16:19). Luke adds that Jesus led His apostles out of Jerusalem into the nearby town of Bethany. There He blessed them, and immediately afterwards, Jesus was carried up into heaven (Luke 24:50-51). Although the resurrection of Jesus was confirmed by His appearance to His apostles and hundreds of others, yet there was no other way to confirm His ascension except as eye witnesses by those that were chosen to proclaim His gospel of salvation. If Jesus had merely disappeared from them, they could not have attested to His return back into heaven as the Son of God, and there to reign over His kingdom. This proved that without any doubt that He was not to establish and rule over an earthly, temporal kingdom. The portion of His kingdom that would be represented on earth was to be His body, the church of Christ, over which He would rule from His throne in heaven.

As the apostles saw their Lord and Savior carried from their sight, they continued to look toward heaven. Two angels, who assumed the form of human men and appeared in white apparel, came into the presence of the apostles. It seems that when unanswerable questions arose and when comfort was needed by the disciples of Jesus, God sent angels to fill that need. On this occasion, the angels asked the apostles, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? All of Jesus' apostles were thought to be from the province of Galilee. The angels seemed to remind these apostles that they needed to be obeying Jesus' instructions to return to Jerusalem soon after they had met with Him. The angels then told them that 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. What comforting words to know that Jesus, their dearly beloved Lord and Master, although He had now departed, would return to earth once again in clouds similar to those that carried Him away into heaven. This we know to be the Day of Judgment (See 1 Thess. 4:16). Immediately they left the mount called Olivet (Olives), near Bethany, and, as instructed, returned to Jerusalem, And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God (Luke 24:53).

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen (John 21:25)