Minister's Thoughts

SUNDAY 24th MAY 2020

ASCENSION SUNDAY 2020

Luke 24:44-53

MEDITATION

“While he was blessing them he left them and was taken up to heaven.” (Luke 24:51)

Today we consider Jesus Ascension into Heaven!  It seems to me that there are three miracles concerning Jesus, the eternal Son of God, that to the unbeliever seem too extraordinary to be true, and which some who are opposed to the followers of Jesus would dismiss as superstitious nonsense or just plain fiction.

The first of these is the virgin Birth.  The virgin birth, like so many other miraculous acts concerning Jesus, was foretold in the Scriptures of the Old Testament.  Someone might say “how ridiculous.”  We might reply OK then, who then were the first ever mother and father, and where did they come from?  Our answer comes from the Book of Genesis Chapter 1 and verses 26-31 which reports that on the 6th day of creation God made man and woman and gave them the names Adam and Eve, and told them to go forth and multiply.  God’s creating act is the only sustainable explanation.  We should never forget that all human life is ordained by God and is in fact a miracle.  The life of the world was corrupted however and Jesus came from Heaven to bring forgiveness of sins and redemption.  New life!

Similarly concerning the resurrection someone might say “Ridiculous.  How can someone come alive again after they have died?”  Of course in our generation we know that it is possible for a person to die and if someone comes quickly enough with a defibrillator that person can live again – but after 3 days in the tomb?  Well the same creator God who breathed life into Adam at the beginning, raised Jesus to eternal life beyond this world, and furthermore promises the same to all who believe in Him.  That’s eternal life!

Perhaps the Ascension of Jesus to Heaven is the hardest of the miracles to comprehend.  Remember though, if, on the day that Jesus ascended into heaven, anyone said the day will come when people will fly to planets in spaceships they would really know that you were barking mad.  Opponents of Jesus’ followers today may scoff that the Ascension is as fictional as Mary Poppins flying around the sky gripping an umbrella.  Jesus ascended to paradise and calls us to come to him there by following the teachings of the Scriptures.

Actually, the Bible gives us very little information about the precise nature of Jesus’ ascension to heaven.  Luke says that when Jesus led his disciples out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them, and while he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.  In the Book of Acts which was also written by Luke, in chapter 1 and verse 9 it says “After he said this, he was taken up before the disciples’ very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  Jesus had taken up his eternal throne beside God his Father.  From there he would save his people. Immediately before that he had been speaking to the disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit who would minister to the people and whom Jesus and the Father would send.

So what actions of the Disciples should we continue to observe today?

  1. Read and remember what the Scriptures say about Jesus, including the Law of Moses; the Prophets and the Psalms – which are the three parts of the Hebrew Bible. Everything recorded there must come to pass.
  2. Remember that the Hebrew Scriptures foretold that the Messiah must suffer, as Jesus did, and then rise from the dead on the Third Day – as Jesus did to eternal life. His Ascension took place about 40 days after the resurrection.
  • Remember that the Scriptures speak of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and say that this teaching will be preached in Jesus’ name to all nations. It has been and still is being preached.  We cannot underestimate the liberating joy of this promise.  A people who were told that they were condemned, were assured by the Son of God that if they truly repented of their sins the Father will forgive them- and make them a new person.  Of course to receive forgiveness we must also learn how to forgive others.

The promise of the Holy Spirit

And of course Jesus ascension into Heaven was necessary so that he could send what His Father promised – The Holy Spirit!  Stay in the city, He told his disciples, until you have been clothed with power from on high.  We will be thinking more about the Holy Spirit when we celebrate Pentecost next Sunday.

In the meantime

The Disciples worshipped Jesus.  And so Luke’s Gospel ends as it began with the disciples staying continually at the temple praising God.

May we continue to meet and pray together in Christ’s Kirk (virtually at the moment) to praise God and to wait for our Lord’s return.  Until then there will be times when we feel the Spirit’s presence – those moments when we are overwhelmed by emotion or our hearts beat faster and we are lifted above the ordinary, we will know that Jesus, risen and ascended, has sent the Holy Spirit to uplift us.

AMEN

Rev. Bob Anderson
Minister

Reading – Luke 24:44-53
Luke 24:44-53 New International Version (NIV) 44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” The Ascension of Jesus 50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
Minister’s Thoughts