The Gospel of Luke | The Ascension and After | Luke 24.50-53 |      

by | Mar 10, 2022

“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. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” Luke 24.50-53

Luke’s Gospel is fairly succinct in it’s conclusion of Jesus’ farewell and ascension. Yet it’s helpful to read Acts 1.4-11 to get a grasp about what Jesus actually says to his disciples about the coming Holy Spirit, and, how they remained standing on the spot from which he left until angels appeared and sent them on their way.

In the ending of Luke’s Gospel we have Jesus leading his band from Jerusalem to Bethany, just across the Kidron Valley, where he lifts his hands and blesses them. We can interject here the words of the Great Commission from Matthew 28.18-20. And then as he blessed his disciples, he left and was ”taken up into heaven.” At this point, Acts 1.4-11 is helpful. Then the disciples ”worshipped and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” And what happens next? The text says, ”they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.”

And although this is fantastic news, I wonder just how long their joy and praising of God lasted? I hate to be the pessimist, but the emotional high of what just happened, would fade. The reality of the resurrection and the future mission to make disciples would of course continue until there deaths. But it’s just human nature, even for those who walked physically with Jesus, to come down off the mountaintop and walk in the valley. It’s humanly impossible to maintain this high forever.

And perhaps we are not intended to do so. We are all emotional beings, but we are also physical and spiritual, with souls and spirits. We are not guided solely by our emotions nor should we be. The facts of the Gospel have been given, the lines have been drawn, even the Holy Spirit who was poured out upon believers in Acts 2 injected the church like a shot of adrenaline that has continued until this day. However, once the smoke cleared and the dust settled, the disciples still returned to their homes, their lives and daily responsibilities of work and school.

But they would never be the same. No one could remove the experiences they had with Jesus, his words were recorded and would soon be put into scrolls for all eternity. And this word, God’s Word and God’s Spirit, would help captivate the hearts of believers for generations to come.

I don’t know about you but I have my ups and downs. I have good days and not so good days. Sometimes I feel full of purpose and other days I seem to wander as if lost and alone. But the message of the cross is that God came near. Although every day might not be Pentecost, God is always present and always faithful. Our lives are to be lived in accordance with his will for our lives. Regardless of how we feel, the Lord is good and He’s preparing us to spend eternity with him.

So, let’s give thanks. Let’s not act like fools but let’s celebrate the effort God took to find us in our sin, and pull us into his salvation, and his loving arms of everlasting grace and love.

“O Lord God, I thank you for your Word. For the record of your deeds, evidence of your love, memories of your passion. Come now, Lord Jesus, make your way into my life. Every minute of every day — let it be lived in joy and awe of you. I love you Lord and praise your name. Fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit that I might know you better. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen