When is the last time you celebrated Ascension Day? If you're like me, never. My faith tradition does not recognize this religious holiday. Of course, we recognize that Christ ascended into heaven 40 days after His resurrection; however, it is not given the special recognition that Christ's birth, death, and resurrection receives.
Recently, I noticed Ascension Day on my calendar. "Hmmm, I need to check into this." Curiosity led me to a brief internet search and an interesting conversation with my Catholic friends. However, the scriptures really sparked enthusiasm about the ascension. I rediscovered some fantastic truths:
Jesus told us to share His message of love and hope just before He ascended into heaven. (Matthew 28:18-20)
Jesus promised to send the gift of the Holy Spirit that equips us to share that message and otherwise serve in His kingdom. (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5)
Jesus will return the same way that He departed; in a cloud and visible to all. (Acts 1:9-11)
For the sake of keeping this a brief blog instead of a long article, let's open door number three.
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, "Why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9-11, ESV, emphasis added)
Can you picture the disciples staring into the sky, with their jaws on the ground? While they're focused on the sky, two angels showed up with a declaration about Jesus' future return: just the way He left. Visible. In a cloud.
Jesus and Clouds
The ascension is not the first time that a cloud showed up when Jesus was on the scene, nor will it be the last.
At the Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John witnessed a mountaintop miracle. Jesus' appearance brightened and then two of God's servants appeared with Him: Moses and Elijah.
A bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." (Matthew 17:5, ESV, emphasis added)
What was the Father's purpose for communicating in this miraculous way? One reason is found in the command to listen to Jesus. I ask myself daily: Am I listening to Jesus?
Jesus will again appear with glorious clouds.
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him. (Revelation 1:7a, emphasis added)
(See also Daniel 7:13, Matthew 24:30, 26:64, Revelation 14:14)
What's So Great About a Cloud?
God in His grace, plainly revealed how Jesus will return. Ignore false messiahs who claim to be the returning Christ. If they are not coming from above, in the clouds, visible to all, then REJECT them!
How Should We Respond to the Ascension of Jesus?
How should the ascension impact our lives? This clear sign does not give us a pass to leisurely cloud watch. While we're looking up, we're also to look around us to those who need to hear the good news of Christ's sacrificial love for all people.
Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere. (Mark 16:20a, NIV)
Also, like the disciples, Christ's ascension gives us another reason to joyfully worship Jesus. In the Luke account, after their Lord went up into heaven, the disciples worshiped Him and were "continually . . . praising God".
We can be encouraged in this broken world as we meditate on the ascension of Christ, and as we await our Savior's return.
Look up, friends! I see distant clouds approaching!
Photo credit: Unsplash/Steve Halama
Let's talk! Reach out to me about what you just read through the Contacts Page. I'm looking forward to hearing from you, my friends.
Do you observe Ascension Day?
Do you think it's important that Jesus ascended into heaven? Why?
Are you looking forward to Christ's return? Why or why not?