13th May 2018
What do you think of when you hear that Jesus ascended to Heaven? What images come to your mind? Some people think that the Ascension is just a fanciful tale of fantasy and that's because of the images Ascension conjures in their minds. But where have those images come from?
if you do a quick Google search for Jesus’ Ascension, you will see hundreds upon hundreds of artists interpretations of the event. Invariably they all depict Jesus floating above his disciples. He has been lifted off the ground, he is literally ascending bodily and all into heaven. There are sometimes clouds and sometimes angels and trumpets and doves around and about him as he ascends. Are these the images that influence how you picture the ascension? Perhaps it is these paintings and icons that cause many of us to picture the ascension the way we do.
But the Bible accounts do not describe the ascent in that way. The event is reported the following ways:
The Gospel of Mark says this : After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Mark 16:19
This is how it is recorded by Luke : When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Luke 24:50-51
There is more detail in Acts : After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. Acts 1:9
What these accounts tell us is that those who were witness to the ascension, did not fully understand what occurred, they said that he was taken up and a cloud covered their view. What their accounts tell us is that the one who came from heaven to live with us, to care for us, to love us and to die for us has returned to where he was from. The job of reconciling us to God is complete. It is now up to us to build on what was done.
But there is more, Jesus promised that his leaving means that the Spirit of God will come to us, each and every one. Jesus' time on earth was only temporary, but the coming of the Spirit means that his Spiritual presence is with us forever.
Revd Mark Robinson