Day 20 - Ascension
- Reading: Matthew 28:16-20, Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:1-11
Over the last 40 days Jesus appeared to his disciples several times teaching them about what was written and the Kingdom of God, but now it was time for him to go home. It was time for him to take his rightful place at the right hand of God the Father.
A lot can be taken away from these messages but we’ll focus on his commission, promise, and his goodbye.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19
Jesus chose to use his last words to encourage his disciples to go out and spread the Word, to share the Gospel, to preach who He was and is. They were not to sit and study, reminisce, or do life just with each other. They were to go out and be on mission for Jesus-spreading the gospel beyond the Jews into the end of the earth. And it’s because they listened that we have heard this Good News. It’s because they took Jesus’ command seriously that we have the opportunities as Gentiles (non-Jews) to receive this salvation.
This commission was not just for the disciples. It is for us as well. We are to heed this command. God created us all with unique gifts. We may not be evangelists but we can all use our gifts to be on mission for Jesus. It’s our duty as lovers of Jesus. We are to be living out the Gospel. But don’t worry, Jesus knew this mission would be hard. Almost impossible without a helper. So he promised the disciples and he promises you and I a Helper.
This promise of a Helper goes back to John 16:7: “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” We’ll dive deeper into the power of the Holy Spirit in later days, but here Jesus reiterates and confirms His promise. Acts 1:4-5 "Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
Jesus knew the mission he set before them could not be accomplished without the work of the Holy Spirit in and around them. Jesus knew that they really could do nothing effective for the Kingdom of God until the Spirit came. This is an important concept for us to remember as well. Just as God promises this gift to his disciples, he promises this gift of the Holy Spirit to us as well. And just as the disciples needed the Holy Spirit to do the work of God, we need the power of the Holy Spirit to be on mission for God.
“After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud...” Acts 1:9. Jesus didn’t just reappear and disappear as he did during the last 40 days. He deliberately and physically rose into the heavens while the disciples watched. They needed to know that this was it. Jesus was finished in a physical sense down on earth. He taught and discipled his people all that they needed to know. He was now entrusting them to spread the Good News to the ends of the earth. They were now to be on mission.