During my study for tomorrow’s message on Acts 28 I got to thinking, “Why does Luke tell us about Jesus’ ascension in Luke ? Is it a creative exit? A mere historical retelling?” So, with a firm belief that Luke is interested in neither I dove in. Here is what I found.
- The disciples rejoice at Jesus’ ascension (Lk. 24:52)
- Jesus ascends “during the blessing he left” (Lk. 24:51)
- Luke is also careful to tell us (through some angels) that Jesus will return “in the same way he went up to heaven” (Ac. 1:11)
Here is my conclusions:
Luke includes the Ascension in his Gospel story (both parts no less) in order to portray Jesus as the generous (it appears he continues to bless and give even as he is going, cf. )exalted King who’s rule we now live under till he comes at the defeat of his enemies (Ps. 110:1) to reclaim what is rightfully his. Peter essentially lays out this view in Ac. 2:34-35 (a fun discovery).
Secondly, Jesus is the reigning, exalted King who engages with his creation as well. I say this because of the two times Jesus shows up in the text: Stephen’s martyrdom (when Jesus stands to receive this first faithful martyr) and Paul’s conversion (when Jesus–the “light brighter than the sun”–speaks to him and knocks him off his donkey).
Last of all, Luke tells us about the Ascension because in it he also sets us up to understand and expect our Lord’s second coming. As the angels declare in Ac. 1:11 Jesus will return as he went up. How did he go up? “He was lifted up until a cloud hid him from their sight” (Ac. 1:9) So, the one who went with the clouds will return “with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man was approaching. He went up to the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. To him was given ruling authority, honor, and sovereignty. All peoples, nations, and language groups were serving him. His authority is eternal and will not pass away. His kingdom will not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13-14)
Far from a creative way to direct the movements of his characters, Luke has orchastrated his story so that the careful reader might find these sweet nuggets! How awesome is that!