2018 05 06 Lorna Laister The Ascension
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The Ascension                Lorna Laister                                      Sermon 18                       6th May 2018

Read Luke 24:50-53

Every one of us is on a journey. We are on the journey to the Kingdom of God. But that is our destination – sooner or later we will be with God in the place he has prepared for us.

We are in ministry and sharing that ministry with the risen Christ.

NOW … we are going to look at the CLIMAX of the Post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus … the ASCENSION.

This is a very important holy day to celebrate. Let’s see why

It has been 40 days since Jesus rose from the dead. He preached … He taught His Disciples … He performed miracles … much like He did before His death.

Jesus had a RESURRECTED BODY … which could be SEEN … FELT … EAT … TRAVEL at the speed of thought … PASS through walls.

But now we are the point where Jesus is leaving again. This account is in Luke 24 and Acts 1. They didn’t understand that God’s program meant the cross … and a Kingdom not of this world. in Luke 24:45 – “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” Jesus’ explains that until now he had had an EARTHLY ministry … NOW … he is beginning the POST-RESURRECTION ministry.

Instead of being stationed on planet Earth … He is to be stationed at God’s Throne in Heaven. Without the ascension the work of Jesus would be incomplete

Read Acts 1:2-3 Five major things to get out of the Ascension

  1. Jesus gave the commission to the disciples
  2. Jesus went to prepare a place for us all
  3. Jesus went so the Holy Spirit would come
  4. Jesus will return
  5. The ascended Lord is our high priest and mediator

 

  1. Jesus gave the commission to the disciples

Read Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus gave us (the Church) a COMMISSION … His parting words … His final instructions before changing headquarters.

Read Luke 24:49 10 days after the Ascension, Jesus would send the Holy Spirit which He had promised them – Acts 1:4-5. Jesus had already told the Disciples that the Holy Spirit couldn’t come, UNTIL He left - This was “The Intention Of The Ascension”.

Read Acts 1:6b. They were eager to know things that Jesus didn’t want them to be thinking about. Their focus was not where it needed to be. The Disciples were brought up under the Old Testament teachings of God’s promise to restore to Israel an earthly Kingdom.

Before the EARTHLY Kingdom would be established, Jesus would establish a “kingdom”, ruling in the hearts & lives of those who would turn to Him for salvation. Jesus now tells them HOW He will do it … THROUGH THEM – Acts 1:8

  1. Jesus went so the Holy Spirit would come

Read John 16:7 The Ascension proved to be a blessing as it prepared the disciples for the coming of Jesus’ spiritual presence, no longer confined to the limitations of time and a physical body.

  1. Jesus went to prepare a place for us; Jesus says

Don’t get lost in despair; believe in God, and keep on believing in Me. 2 My Father’s home is designed to accommodate all of you. If there were not room for everyone, I would have told you that. I am going to make arrangements for your arrival. 3 I will be there to greet you personally and welcome you home, where we will be together.

  1. Jesus will return

And the blessing for us is that as Jesus ascended into heaven we who are his followers will too. Christ’s ascension is now a symbol of our own ascension and we are to encourage each other with this truth.

  1. The ascended Lord is our high priest and mediator

Jesus made it possible for us to be reconciled to the Father. We tend to think that the Resurrection is where everything happened. BUT that’s not true - the Resurrection symbolises when We are forgiven; Justified =; Reconciled. But the ascension takes us further along in the story of redemption.

Only NOW will the Spirit be sent.

Only NOW is Jesus glorified.

Only NOW is power available to man from on high

AND now Jesus is interceding to God the Father on our behalf ALL THE TIME

If there had been no ascension we could not be taken into the very heart of God. Jesus had to go and prepare this place for us. And we are there now. We are with him, in him. It is the most amazing fact that our humanity – with all its varieties all its vulnerability has been taken – by Jesus – into the heart of the divine life. So, this is it. Jesus is talking to God about us. For us. With us. And when we are happy, and we worship Jesus is telling God that. And when we are unhappy and hurting Jesus is telling God that too

Jesus ascends to heaven. The human life in which God has made himself most visible, most tangible, disappears from the human world in its former shape and is somehow absorbed into the endless life of God. And our humanity, all of it, goes with Jesus.

But Jesus picks up the cry of the hungry and the forgotten. He hears the human beings that nobody else hears. And he calls to us to say, 'You listen too'. He makes his own the joy and celebration and thanksgiving of human beings going about their routine work and finding their fulfilment in ordinary prosaic, bog-standard love and faithfulness. All of that is taken 'to the throne of Godhead, to the Father's breast'. All of that on the throne of eternity in the burning heart of truth and reality.

A General in the army said that one of the hardest things a commander can do is to send soldiers into battle, knowing that many will be killed; he said it’s like ordering the destruction of the thing you love the most.

In essence, Jesus did just that on His day of Ascension. He sent His disciples to bring the Good News to a hostile world where people would brutally oppose them. But because He ascended, we know that our faith is something worth living for and dying for. Jesus continues to carry out His work in us.

“Without the incarnation the Word would not have become flesh, and Jesus would not have existed. Without the Ascension our humanity would not have entered into communion with the Father and Jesus would have no continuing ministry” Andrew Purves

With the incarnation the ministry of Jesus on earth began, with the ascension the ministry of Jesus in heaven began

What this day is telling me is this – Jesus’ ministry in continuing. I want to be  part of that. I am already a part of that but I want to be more active. On my journey towards the fulness of the Kingdom I am fully absorbed into the nature of the Triune God. Jesus will work this miracle in me, because he is my high priest mediator and my Lord.

The Apostles did their part … they STARTED in Jerusalem … then went to Judea … then to Samaria … then to the ends of the known world at that time.

NOW … it’s up to US to CONTINUE this mission that they started … that’s the mission of the Church.

 



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