Read Luke 24.
Good Friday to you!
This chapter prepares us well for Easter Sunday as it describes the resurrection of Christ and his appearances to his disciples.
At the end of the chapter, though, Jesus blessed the disciples (v. 50) and “…he left them and was taken up into heaven.” That was the end of Christ’s ministry on earth.
We call this the ascension and it teaches that Jesus was received bodily into heaven. But why? Why did he leave so publicly? Why did he physically leave this earth as a man, rather than as a spirit? There are two reasons why Jesus ascended into heaven the way that he did:
- To remain in a human body. Christ became a man at the incarnation but he remains a man to this day and will for the rest of eternity. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” This verse describes Jesus’s mediatorial work in heaven. That is happening right now. But Paul specified that he is “the man Christ Jesus.” In other words, Jesus continues as both God and man. He is glorified, but still human. The ascension into heaven accomplished that. See also Hebrews 7:24-25.
- To return bodily the same way he left. Jesus will not return as a spirit; he will return in his human body. He won’t return in secret; he will return visibly and publicly. Acts 1:10-11 says, “They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
We spend much more time and effort on the death and resurrection of Jesus–as we should. But Jesus’s ascension is important, too.