On Thursday, May 15th of this year we remembered the ascension of our Lord into heaven. After His resurrection Christ spent forty days appearing to the disciples and others, presenting Himself with many convincing proofs (Acts 1:3). We remember the ascension of Christ because of its necessity and Acts 1:9-11 gives us two reasons why the ascension is important for us.
1. Christ ascended so we can have an Intercessor
Luke tell us in Acts 1:9 “after He [Jesus] had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight”. Hebrews 4:14-16 gives us the reason: Jesus has lifted up so that He would become our great high priest who intercedes for us. Therefore, “we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
Jesus as the God-man is able to understand our weaknesses and have compassion on us. He has been tempted in all things as we are. Jesus understands our weaknesses from two standpoints. First, He experienced temptation like us, yet didn’t yield to sin. The One who didn’t yield understands the intensity (force) of temptation. Second, Jesus lived on earth. He knows the extent of human sin. They envied Him, hated Him and tried to kill Him and ultimately they crucified Him.
2. Christ ascended to emphasize the work of ministry
The two angels in verse 11 asked the disciples a rhetorical question; its purpose was to gently rebuke them. The question in our day to day language was: Don’t you know what you are suppose to do? Don’t you remember what He told you while He was with you? Jesus had a conversation with the disciples (see Acts 1:4-8). What the disciples needed to focus on was the work of ministry. They were to proclaim the message of the gospel to the ends of the world, starting in Jerusalem (1:8).
The rest of the book of Acts records the activity of the apostles and by extension the church. The book of Acts divides into three major geographic sections (based on 1:8). Chapters 1-7 the focus is in Jerusalem and shows the establishment of the church in Jerusalem (2:1ff), the life of the church, and the conflicts they had (Acts 2:42f; 5:1f; 6:1f).
In Acts 8 Luke records an important incident in the life of the church(8:1-4). The church experienced some severe persecution from the Jewish community which by God’s sovereignty, began an important transition in church ministry. The church expanded its territory to Samaria represented by the ministry of Philip (8:4-25). Acts 11:19-26 records for us the establishment of an important church in Antioch of Syria. That church became the sending and leading church in planting other churches in the Roman world through the ministry of Paul and those with him (13-28).
Today, the church needs to focus its effort on the work of ministry. Christ as our High Priest intercedes for us so we can have an uninterrupted fellowship with our Heavenly Father (Hebrews 7:25). We need to proclaim the name of Jesus to a dying world by establishing new churches and strengthening existing churches. The need is great but the task is not impossible. Let us by God’s grace take responsibility as God’s bride to reach out to the ends of the earth.