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He Was Taken Up

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

 

The Mount of Olives is actually a ridge with four peaks rising about 200 feet above the city of Jerusalem.  Namely:  the Mount of the Summit, where Jesus wept over Jerusalem.   Secondly, there is the Mount of Corruption where King Solomon allowed places of idol worship for his foreign wives. Third is the Mount of the Prophets, which contains the catacombs or underground chambers for graves, housing the oldest known remains of Jews who converted to Christianity.  And then, lastly, there is the Mount of Ascension where it is believed that Jesus bodily ascended to heaven back to God, his Father.  It is estimated that there are about 150,000 graves in the area of the Mount of Olive. There are also several churches and shrines scattered across the area of the Mount of Olives. The Chapel of the Ascension was converted to a Muslim mosque in about the year… in the year of our Lord 1187 and remains so today.

In this shrine, this Muslim mosque supposedly there is an imprint of Jesus’ right foot, right where his disciples watched him ascend to heaven, because it is also known to many, believed by many that in the 600s—of course in the first century AD—in the 600s, many Christian pilgrims would go to this ascension site and they were encouraged to take home some of the dust from this rocky area as a relic or a souvenir of the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven where he was taken up.

So according to Scripture what exactly happened on that day some 40 days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ out from among the dead? In Acts chapter one and verse nine it says: After he said this he was taken up before their eyes and a cloud hid him from their sight.  Well, what was it that he said? Partly in verse eight, the preceding verse, Acts chapter one and verse eight Jesus said: You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all of Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.  That is, that these eye witness disciples that were witnesses of the actual bodily ascension of Jesus Christ that it was as eye witnesses a fact and that he had been raised from the dead and then ascended, returning back to heaven and they were to witness to this, witness to these two facts, his resurrection out from amongst the dead, his ascension back to the Father and testify regarding this to all and that all of Christ’s disciples, from the first century AD to the 21st century AD, until he returns again, that we are to also focus on this work of being Christ’s ambassadors of these truths to the world.  To the ends of the earth, which includes the Church down through the centuries to today. Jesus Christ is alive and active, interceding for us at the right hand of God.

It also says in verse seven: He was taken up before their eyes, that is, literally. He was ascended bodily, right before their eyes. It is interesting, that no one, no eyes actually saw, no human being actually witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ, raised physically from the dead. But they did literally physically see Jesus Christ as he physically was ascended into heaven, obviously miraculously into the sky above until a cloud hid him from their sight.

Have you ever been to a passion play of Jesus Christ?  Karen and I have been to at least one many years ago, in Arkansas. And the second climax after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which, again, is not specifically shown as with his body raising up from the dead.  It is more dramatic on the audience as we literally, visibly see in the audience as eye witnesses, the reenactment of Jesus Christ ascending bodily up into the sky, being taken up, obviously with cables and pulleys.  The audience breaks out in applause, even at the repeated reenactment of Christ actually being taken up gives you goose bumps all over.

Where did Jesus Christ actually go?  The answer is in Acts chapter two and verse 33 where it says, in part: Exalted to the right hand of God. That is, in a place and a position of power and of prestige. And how long will it be that he will be there? The answer is also, again, in Acts chapter two and verses 34 and verses 35 where it says, in part: The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.  This will not happen until after Christ’s second coming to this earth to rule as is described also in Philippians chapter two and verses 10 and 11 that says that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

And then in Acts chapter one and verse 10 they were looking intently into the sky as he was going up when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. Imagine being there watching Jesus leave you miraculously, marvelously going up and up and away behind the clouds. Then the shock of having two men, actually angels, appear beside you. And then in verse 11 they said: Why do you stand there looking up into the skies?
The disciple’s eyes obviously would have been glued to the sky as would have been our eyes had we been there. They did not applaud. They probably were mesmerized and saddened that the Lord had left them. And yet the angels continued. This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way as you have seen him go into heaven.  That is, literally, physically, bodily, return to this earth at the same Mount of Olives according to Zechariah chapter 14 and verse four where it is revealed there that his feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives. And when? Only according to the sovereign time table of God the Father.

In Acts one and verse 12 it says, in part: Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives. The evangelist Luke who also wrote the book of Acts wrote the gospel of Luke chapter 24 verses 50 through 53 “When he had led them out of the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. And while he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.  Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy and they stayed continually at the temple praising God.
In the Acts account the writer Luke emphasized what happened immediately after they had returned from Christ’s ascension, whereas in the gospel of Luke he focused on their later joy and praise and worship as they awaited the promised Holy Spirit.

The ascension marked the completion marked the completion of Christ’s mission for mankind at his first coming. The ascension also marked Christ’s exaltation back to his former glory with God the Father.

The ascension also marked the sending of the Holy Spirit in a way as never before to indwell believers. And the ascension also marked our work in the proclamation of the gospel to the ends of the earth. And the ascension also marked the beginning of Christ’s intercessory work for believers as our advocate in heaven.  And Christ’s ascension also marks our, the Church’ ascension one glorious day when we also will be taken up
Are you ready?

 

David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.




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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10