Today is Ascension Sunday, a day that is not particularly recognized or highly anticipated in our culture at large. I doubt anyone woke up this morning saying, “Yay! It’s Ascension Sunday!” But, despite that fact, it’s a day that is special…significant in the life of the church. Luke writes about the ascension of Jesus into heaven, his return back to God, both at the end of the gospel of Luke and at the beginning of Acts.
Curiously, these accounts are somewhat different. In Luke, it seems as if Jesus is raised from the dead and ascended to heaven in a short period of time, possibly on the same day. In Acts, we are told explicitly that Jesus stayed with the disciples for forty days. That number forty should ring a bell…forty years for Israel in the wilderness, forty days for Moses on the mountaintop, forty days for Jesus to fast before the temptation. The number forty is often more symbolic than literal in the Bible. And in these “forty days,” Jesus continued to prepare his disciples for his departure and for their next steps…waiting for the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the One who would empower them and send them to the “ends of the earth.”
You can read Luke’s first account of the ascension here: Luke 22:44-53. Today, we spend time with the second account of the ascension from Acts, reflecting on that head-scratcher of a question asked by the “two guys in white” who appear after Jesus is taken up: “Why do you stand looking up to heaven?”
Scripture: Acts 1:1-11
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