Christ is risen!
Luke writes that after Jesus was raised from the dead, He showed Himself to the disciples and proved in many ways that He was alive. They “saw Jesus during the forty days after he was raised from the dead, and he spoke to them about the kingdom of God.” Acts 1:3 (NCV).
I think it was an unforgettable experience for the disciples to see and hear Jesus after He was raised from the dead. This was clear proof that He had totally conquered sin and Satan, and death itself. Just like the two disciples who walked with Him on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32), their hearts must have been full of excitement and wonder. He appeared to them on the first Easter Sunday, and a week later, Thomas could touch Jesus’ body that showed the marks of His crucifixion. (John 20:19-29.)
There was no doubt that Jesus Christ was raised up from the dead. Everything He had prophesied about Himself was true. For 33 years He had been on earth as a human being with a nature like ours, had been tempted in every way just like us. But because He never gave in to sin, He could overcome Satan who had the power of death. He gave Himself as a spotless sacrifice to God – a perfect payment for the sins of the world. Satan could no longer accuse anybody to God, because Jesus had paid the whole debt. (Colossians 2:13-14.)
Jesus told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem because very soon they would also receive power to overcome sin, and by sending them the Holy Spirit from heaven they would be able to be His witnesses.
Ascension Day: Jesus returns to His Father in heaven
But to send the Holy Spirit He first had to return to heaven and take His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. That happened on the Mount of Olives. (Luke 24:50.) That was a glorious time there. He promised His disciples that He would not leave them without help, but that He would always be with them through the Holy Spirit who is the Comforter, the Helper, the Teacher of Righteousness. (John 16:7, Matthew 28:18-20.) Then He was taken up into a cloud before their eyes.
I think if we had been there on Ascension Day, we might also have stood there silently looking up to heaven. But God has work for us to do, and He sent two angels to give the disciples their orders, “‘Jesus, whom you saw taken up from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you saw him go.’ Then they went back to Jerusalem … they all continued praying together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers.” Acts 1:9-14 (NCV). These 120 people were the first ones in the “church”, and it was their task to lay the foundations of God’s temple on earth, made from “living stones” who follow Jesus in His footsteps.
The “temple” is completed
Now in these days God is adding the last stone to the building, disciples who are being built together as a holy temple in the Lord, with Jesus Christ Himself as the chief cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:14-22.) When this work is finished, the rapture will come, our Ascension Day, when the faithful disciples who followed the Lamb wherever He went, will be raised up to meet Him in the clouds.
And when He returns and stands on the Mount of Olives again, the King of kings and Lord of Lords, He who is Faithful and True, then His disciples will be with Him, and together they will cleanse the earth from all evil and unrighteousness. (Zechariah 14:4-5, Revelation 19:11-21.)
Yes, Ascension Day is a day worth celebrating!