Jesus' Ascension: His Departure and Continuing Presence

Pastor Jeff Struecker

We started talking about Jesus’ exaltation, which means Jesus receiving the credit and respect he deserves. After his death and resurrection, Jesus received the praise that he deserved. While on Earth, he was criticized, condemned, and physically and emotionally abused by the people he came to rescue. Last week, we talked about Jesus backing up all of his claims in one single moment – the resurrection. According to C.S. Lewis, this moment is either evidence that Jesus is the Lord of the universe or a lunatic or liar. Today, we will talk about Jesus’ ascension, which refers to his leaving Earth and returning to heaven.

During the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, he appeared to people, did miracles, and showed up in different ways. At the end of the 40-day period, Jesus gathered his disciples on a hilltop outside of Jerusalem and left to be with the Father in heaven. The Bible describes Jesus lifting up from their midst and disappearing.

The language of heaven being up and hell being down comes from this moment of Jesus leaving Earth and going back to heaven, which was foretold by the prophet Daniel about 600 years before it happened. According to Daniel 7:13, God would send His Son to do great miracles, leave Earth, and return to the Father in heaven.

Memory Verse

And Jesus’ favorite way of referring to himself is the “Son of Man,” which comes from the books of Ezekiel and Daniel. Jesus came to Earth, walked around as a normal human being, died, and three days later was resurrected. Then, he spent about 40 days with his disciples, preparing them for what would happen next. On the 40th day, he gathered them on a hilltop and ascended to heaven.

And Jesus said, “By the way, it’s good for you that I go away and return to be with my Father. Because ten days later, I’m going to send my Holy Spirit. It happens on Pentecost, the 50th day, and when my Holy Spirit shows up, boom, everything changes.”

Now, I have a question for you.

Challenge

Think about it this way: if Jesus said, “I’m sending my Holy Spirit to be with you here on Earth,” and if God the Father is in heaven, and Jesus is in heaven, what’s Jesus doing up there right now? What is his role in heaven? And spoiler alert: his role in heaven greatly impacts how you and I live our lives.

In fact, Jesus is really saying, “I’m still going to be present on Earth, even after I go to be with my Father in heaven. I’m just going to do it now through my people. They’re going to be my hands. They’re going to be my feet here on Earth. I will be with the Father in heaven, and you will be my hands and feet.”

So you should think about this for a second: what is Jesus doing right now? And if he is doing anything in heaven right now, does that make a difference in your life?