By Brooke Holt
“And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come back in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’” Acts 1:9-11
For forty days after the resurrection, Jesus continued his earthly ministry. He revealed himself to the disciples as well as to many others (see 1 Corinthians 15:6). Jesus showed them the holes in his hands and sides. He truly was the one who died, was buried, and was resurrected. As Jesus walked among them, he lived in that resurrected body. During these forty days, Jesus encouraged his followers and then commissioned them to continue building the kingdom of God on the earth. And Jesus told them of the coming Holy Spirit who would make all the kingdom work possible.
Those forty additional days with Jesus must have felt like the supreme gift, and surely his earthly physical presence encouraged them and made them more ready to continue his kingdom work. However, I am not sure anything could have prepared them for the ascension. One minute they are talking to Jesus and the next moment Jesus was lifted into the clouds (Acts 1:9). Who could have fathomed such a departure?
Angelic beings came alongside these dumbfounded men to ask why they continued to stare into the heavens. Jesus would not be returning today; but one day, Jesus would come again. Until that day, they were to obey everything Jesus taught them beginning with the command to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
This resurrected ministry of Jesus had incredible value for his followers then and now. Jesus came to dwell among his people to make his Father known, to live as one of us, and to die on our behalf. Jesus’ ascension to the Father in the flesh reminds his followers that though he lived as a human, he also was and is God.
As the Son, Jesus understands you and has compassion for you. In addition, he lives to make intercession for you (see Hebrews 7:25). He will come again to fully establish his kingdom. When he returns, every person will know and every knee will bow to Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of all (Philippians 2:10-11).
Until that day, he has entrusted you with an amazing calling! Live eagerly and ready for his second coming - not idly looking into the heavens. Instead, you are to bear witness to Jesus, to proclaim the Gospel of salvation to all whom he sends you.
When Jesus comes again, will he find you faithful to this amazing call? Are you focusing on his kingdom work and preparing your life for his eternal home with you? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a "gift" who will guide us, lead us, and empower us. Yet many believers don't experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This unique Christian small group Bible study provides a space in which we can explore what it truly means to "walk in the Spirit" on a daily basis. The Spirit-Filled Life small group curriculum centers on a 6-part video teaching series examining the life-giving and creative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Begin to experience the gift today!
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