Welcome back Bible students! Turn on your imagination and think of what it would have been like to be present at Jesus’ last appearance before His ascension into heaven. We’re going there today, and God is inviting you to step into His Story!
Let’s pick it up where we left off yesterday. As you know, Jesus returned to Jerusalem where He told His followers to remain while they wait for power from on high.
…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.~Acts 1:8
Indeed, the Holy Spirit was about to enter in a big way, and with that imputed power, Jesus was about to empower His followers and send them out as witnesses locally and around the world! Matthew records how He had instructed and prepared them earlier for just such a task. Read Matthew 28:16-20.
Imagine getting those instructions! In fact, those instructions ARE for us, so here is His invitation to us to jump right into His Story! We are to be His witnesses. How are you doing at that? A witness declares what they have seen or experienced. In a sense, a witness “presents” Jesus to others. When is the last time you presented Jesus by word or deed? Who in your life needs to see Jesus? Will you present Him?
Beyond that, with the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to go and make disciples. We are to teach and demonstrate to others how to live a disciplined life, according to God’s Word. Who discipled (mentored) you? Why not call them up and express your appreciation. Perhaps you are a believer, but you have never been discipled/mentored. I encourage you to find a mature believer who has walked with the Lord for a while, and whose life exhibits His character. Explain that you would like a mentor and ask if they are available and willing. Or, talk to a staff member at your church and ask them to recommend a mentor. Discipleship is not only Biblical, but it is vital for growth.
After Jesus provided last minute instructions, the Bible says He led His followers to Bethany (on the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem), lifted up His hands and blessed them. Then, He departed into heaven. (Acts 24:50-51)
Imagine that scene! Put yourself in the picture, at the top of the Mount of Olives, watching Jesus ascend into heaven. Did His glory create a an aura of near-blinding light? Did everyone stand as they watched the Lord of Glory ascend, or did they fall to their knees?
What was the mood of those He left behind? That answer appears in the final two verses of Luke 24! Can you imagine being part of that praise and worship service?
Let’s finish off with the incredible message of the two men in white in Acts 1:9-11:
9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
Oh glorious day! Just as Jesus departed in a cloud of glory, so He will one day return in the same way. That will be His Second Coming (His return to earth), but guess what! The rapture occurs before that! It is at His Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation that His foot will touch down on the Mount of Olives…from where He ascended…and we will be with Him, ready to rule and reign with Him in the Millennial Kingdom!
BTW – the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church happened on Pentecost. This year, Pentecost falls on May 31. As we look toward Pentecost, let’s not forget the importance of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances! We jammed them into a week of study, but they were actually scattered throughout those weeks in between.
Blessings, my friends!