What happened after Jesus was raised from the dead?

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself…They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:27, 32

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8-9

After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples bodily and taught them about the Kingdom of God. Then he ascended into heaven.

One of the most neglected aspects of the Gospel story is Jesus’ ascension. But what is the ascension, and what did it accomplish?

Luke tells us the basic story in Acts chapter 1.

Jesus was crucified and buried. He conquered death and rose from the dead. Then he met with his disciples in Jerusalem and told them to stay there until his Holy Spirit came upon them. The Holy Spirit, Jesus told them, would come upon them and enable them to be his faithful witnesses for the world.

But then something strange happened. A cloud surrounded Jesus and took him into heaven. He vanished!

But why did Jesus go up into heaven? Has he abandoned us?

Of course not!

In the Bible, the point of the ascension isn’t that Jesus goes away. The point is that he goes into heaven to be enthroned on the throne of the universe. He’s in charge of everything! And his plan is to establish his kingdom through the Church.

But that seems like a scary idea. Jesus intends to establish his kingdom on earth through us? He knows us intimately and still thinks that we’re the ones to accomplish this? Well, not by our own power. And that’s where the other key element of the ascension comes in. When Jesus ascends to heaven, he pours out his Holy Spirit upon the Church to give us power!

The power to do what? The answer is simple and thrilling! The power of the Spirit is to make us effective witnesses for Jesus and for his kingdom.

Spend some time today praying for the Church. Ask God to use you to show others his love, and to make you a more faithful and effective witness to the people he places around you.

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