Read - Acts 1v6-11
Message - Scott Woodburn
Our faith has many big words which are often difficult to say but are part of our vocabulary nevertheless. Crucifixion. Resurrection. Justification. Propitiation. We know all of these things and often preach them and speak of them. Yet there are many gaps in our speech. Something that we don't often speak about is the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What is the Ascension? Just as we ascend the stairs to bed in the evening, so Jesus ascended back up to heaven. He is there today at the Father's right hand, interceding for His own.
Before His departure the disciples were keen to ask the Lord a question. He had risen from the dead and they wondered if this would be the time He would restore the kingdom to Israel (v6). Even at the end of the Lord's time on earth His disciples were still asking the wrong questions. Their focus was on ethnic, national Israel. Would Christ now usher in a new age of glory for the Jewish people? Would a new David-like King take the throne? Would this new King throw the Romans from the land? Perhaps Jesus Himself would lead them in victorious battle against their enemies.
The purpose of the Lord was bigger than the borders of Israel. The time had come for the Gospel to be preached to the nations and for the Gentiles to be added to the Church of Christ. The Lord's response is gentle. He tells them that the times and seasons fixed by God are not their concern (v7). We too must be careful in this regard. Some might say "Surely Covid is a sign that the end is near?" Still others proclaim that they know exactly when Christ will return. Truth be told, we do not know and cannot know (Mark 13v32).
Jesus directs His disciples' wrong question to the right answer. They would be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (v8). Empowered and equipped by the Holy Spirit they would preach the Gospel to the nations. The kingdom of God would know no borders and no limits and it would be ruled over by King Jesus.
Just as this answer reached their ears, Christ ascended into the clouds (v9). The Ascension is not an irrelevant part of Scripture. It is a certain reminder that Christ is alive forevermore and He reigns today above the heavens. I heard a sermon recently on the Kingship of Christ, the preacher reminded us "He is reigning and we can rest." No matter what this year brings, nothing changes the fact that we trust the ascended Christ who is not troubled or threatened by the forces of this evil age. He is reigning, He is returning (v11) and we find our rest in Him.
Q60 How is the Sabbath to be sanctified? The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.