The ascension of Jesus Christ is the final act in his earthly work of redemption. He departs in order that he could defend us in heaven against Satan's accusations.
Please read Acts 1:1-11 before starting GraspingGod.com's free Bible study lessons, #2.22.
Previous lesson: Jesus' Resurrection #2.21.
Preliminary Bible Study Questions:
1) What is the role of the Holy Spirit in Jesus' resurrection and ascension?
2) How did the ascension of Jesus Christ give evidence of the resurrection?
3) What does a high priest do?
Why did Jesus choose to make a grand exit from his work on earth? What were the details behind such an event, with so many people in attendance?
Let's look at some reasons for the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven.
The ascension of Jesus Christ was foretold in the book of Psalms (Ps 68:18), so the event had to fulfill that particular prophecy. God never leaves anything undone, because everything he does is with purpose from the beginning.
There are no surprises, nor are there last minute plans needed with God. He has reasons for everything he does and plans for everything he wants accomplished. There is no difference with the ascension of Jesus to heaven.
We know the plan of God required the ascension of Jesus, because Jesus told the disciples, "But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7).
The Holy Spirit is the Counselor and he wasn't coming to earth again until after the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven. The
Counselor is the current way in which Jesus is with us, living within
our hearts. Jesus' Spirit is truly abiding within his believers.
The resurrected Christ later told Mary Magdalene, "Don't cling to me, for I haven't yet ascended to the Father." (John 20:17). He didn't want Mary "clinging" to him, but later he asked Thomas to place his fingers in his wounds. This command to Mary wasn't about handling his glorified body, but about Mary wanting to hold him on earth so they didn't lose him again.
Jesus knew he would have to soon depart and he didn't want his followers reaching any wrong conclusions. Christ would later send the Holy Spirit so he knew they wouldn't be abandoned. Jesus would remain with them, by his Holy Spirit.
The resurrection and the ascension of Jesus offered an answer for an empty tomb, as well. The disciples of Christ couldn't be expected to proclaim the resurrection if they couldn't present Jesus' physical body to anyone. They would have been the laughing stock of Jerusalem.
The sheer numbers of witnesses to Jesus' ascension proved his bodily resurrection from the grave.
God had all the details worked out in his perfect plan!
The ascension of Jesus ended his personal public ministry by "signing-off" once and for all. After 40 days of surprise visits the disciples had surely grown accustomed to meeting the risen Lord Jesus.
The angels informed them that they wouldn't see Jesus again until he returned in the clouds in much the same way as he left. You and I are to anticipate the 2nd coming of Jesus even now.
I like to think of his return when I gaze into the beautiful, blue sky.
The resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ together proved to his followers that the Father accepted the Lamb's sacrifice in full.
The Holy Spirit was in charge of both events, so, this should give you faith in the Holy Spirit's ability to bring God's plans to fruition. It soon became evident to Jesus' followers that the Son of Man's sacrifice for our sins was pleasing and sufficient.
The Holy Spirit brought Christ back to life and the Holy Spirit will bring our bodies back to life, as well (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
The ascension of Jesus was the final stamp of approval on his earthly work. It's as though the Father told him, "Well done, my good and faithful Son. Come home to my heaven, and sit here at my right hand."
Jesus' new glorified body wasn't made for earth, because it was made for heaven. It was made to rule creation from his home in heaven. Christ gave his followers tangible proof that the resurrection and ascension to heaven is true and should be expected by all true believers.
We will someday be "like" Christ, in our glorified bodies.
First John 3:2 says, "Dear friends, we are now God's children, but what we are to be in the future has not yet been fully revealed. We know that if Christ reappears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is."
That incredible statement comes directly from the disciple Jesus loved, so take it to heart, allowing it to encourage you.
Finally, Jesus Christ was now the Great High Priest who passed through the heavens (Hebrews 4:14).
The ascension of Jesus began his sojourn to his throne which passed through three different heavens (2 Corinthians 12:2): 1) earth's atmosphere; 2) the stellar heaven; and, 3) God's abode.
The Jewish High Priest had previously passed through three areas of the temple: 1) Outer Court; 2) Holy Place, and 3) the Holy of Holies. Amazing, huh? Again, God leaves nothing undone.
Jesus qualified to be our faithful High Priest because he lived a human life. He can identify with us.
Thankfully, he is now interceding before the Father on our behalf (Hebrews 3:1-2). It was time for the sacrificial Son of Man to become our Intercessor. His work is now in heaven. If only we could see our Savior pleading for us, how great would our praises be!
If you belong to him, you can take great hope in his constant intercession on your behalf (Hebrews 7:25).
Picture Jesus in heaven as your personal lawyer standing before God the Father, defending you from all accusations. The devil is accusing you to the Father, but being over-ruled by your Great and Faithful High Priest, Jesus. This is no small matter, being something we'll look at more fully in the future.
Place yourself in the shoes of the apostles.
How would you have responded as an eyewitness to the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus?
Many people praised the Lord.
Over the course of Christ's public ministry many so-called disciples turned their backs on him (John 6:66).
The same things still happen today - some believe and some leave. Don't be like those who walked away from him. Hebrews 6:4-6 offers a stern warning to those followers who turn their back on Jesus.
Deal with Jesus now, face-to-face, working it out. He's always listening, always waiting for a response. Jesus is so worthy of all your adoration and praises.
Next lesson: Jesus Christ's Return #2.23
Bible Study Questions:
1) How is Jesus with his followers today?
2) There is a battle for your soul in heaven before the Father. Satan is accusing you and Jesus is pardoning you. How do those facts inspire you to improve your life?
3) If you still have doubts about Jesus' resurrection and ascension please continue studying and learning about him. Give him consideration, give him time, and ask him to speak to you. You can learn more about the ascension of Jesus here.
Inspirational Bible Verses:
Dear brothers, think about this! You can be sure that the patriarch David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us. But he was a prophet, and he knew God had promised with an oath that one of David’s own descendants would sit on his throne. David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave.
“God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today. For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said,
‘The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
until I humble your enemies,
making them a footstool under your feet.”’
“So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”
Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles — all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Acts 2:29-39
Faith cannot be inherited or gained by being baptized into a Church. Faith is a matter between the individual and God. Martin Luther Quotes
Faith takes God without any ifs. If God says anything, faith says, "I believe it!" and "Amen!" D.L.Moody
Jesus Christ Quotes:
As the centuries pass the evidence is accumulating that, measured by his effect on history, Jesus is the most influential life ever lived on this planet. Kenneth Scott Latourette
Prayers of Thanksgiving:
Dear Heavenly Father. I thank you for your plan of redemption. No limited human mind could ever invent such a perfect plan. I stand in awe of you, and in complete adoration of your Son. In Christ's name I pray. Amen
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