Jesus walked with, talked with, and taught his disciples and others for 40 days following his resurrection. He was alive in the flesh! They soon asked him if he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel and Jesus spoke with his disciples saying:
“He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
(Acts 1:7–8 ESV)
He gave them a mandate to go and proclaim the message of Christ to all peoples as it is written in the Gospel According to Matthew, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19–20 ESV). We as the church have been given a holy task, a mission, a mandate from our Lord. But he also gave us a promise, that he would never really leave us. Though he has ascended, he has poured out the Holy Spirit upon believers in order that we may be empowered to do the work of his kingdom here right now.
After giving the church this mission, Scripture testifies to his ascension saying, “And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10–11 ESV). He has ascended but he has promised to return. This is the essence of the Feast of the Ascension!
Ascension Day celebrations include processions symbolizing Christ’s entry into heaven and, in some countries, chasing a “devil” through the streets and dunking it in a pond or burning it in effigy – symbolic of the Messiah’s triumph over the devil when he opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
The liturgical color in many churches is white on Ascension Day. Symbols include the ascending Christ, birds flying homeward, open gates, a lion conquering a dragon, Elijah’s fiery chariot and a broken chain.
May we celebrate the ascension of our Lord, who was made like us in order that we may be like him, by remembering that he will return again the same way in which he departed; alive and glorious!
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.””
(Rev 22:12–13 ESV)
“He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
(Rev 22:20 ESV)