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The Bible Story Podcast - Andrew Devis EPISODE 36, 15th March 2021
Episode NT36 – Jesus’ Ascension

Episode NT36 – Jesus’ Ascension

Based on Acts chapter 1 verses 1 to 14

Story 36 – Jesus’ Ascension

(PETER) ‘Jesus had risen from the dead! And from time to time during the 40 days after His resurrection He came to see us, His disciples, or apostles as we were also called. Apostle means ‘Someone who’s sent out’, and we were called apostles of Jesus because He’d chosen us and sent us out to tell people about Him and God’s Kingdom.

As we spent time with Him during those days He talked to us about all kinds of matters concerning the Kingdom of God. And, while He was with us, He ate food and showed us time and time again that He wasn’t a ghost or anything like that - but a living, breathing person. The same Jesus we’d known and loved before His crucifixion, whose first concern was always the Kingdom of God.’

‘Anyway, we’d returned to Jerusalem from Galilee, and while He was eating with us He gave us, His apostles, an important commandment. (P) He said, ‘Don’t leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift He promised.’ He looked around at us expecting us to understand, but most of us sat there with blank expressions on our faces, so He added, ‘Remember? I’ve told you about it before! John baptised with water, but in just a few days you’ll be baptised with the Holy Spirit!’’ (PAUSE)

‘Now that God had raised Jesus back to life, and He was talking about the Kingdom of God again, we began to think that all our old ideas about Jesus becoming King of Israel and kicking the Romans out of our country must have been right all along. So we kept asking Him, ‘Lord, is it now that you’re going to free Israel and make us the most important kingdom in the world?’’

‘Jesus must have been so disappointed with us, we still didn’t understand and were making the same old mistakes we’d always made. So, one day, as we asked Him yet again, He said, ‘The Father sets those dates and they aren’t for you to know.’ (P) That put us in our place! And then He spoke once more of the subject that was so close to His heart, His Kingdom. ‘But when the Holy Spirit comes,’ He continued, ‘you’ll receive power, and then you’ll tell people everywhere about me! You’ll start right here in this city, Jerusalem; and then you’ll move out to Judea, the area around Jerusalem; and then you’ll move even further away from here, to Samaria, where the Samaritans live; and then – to the ends of the earth.’’

‘I guess it took us a while to really understand what Jesus meant. He hadn’t been raised from the dead so that He could become the King of a single country! The whole earth belonged to Him! His Kingdom was bigger than any country, or any nationality or people group! His Kingdom was to cover the whole earth and our job in this Kingdom was to tell everyone about Him, to point to Him, the real King who’d died to take the punishment we so richly deserve! And now He was telling us that sometime soon, He’d return to His Father and send the Holy Spirit to help us – to help us tell the whole world that Jesus is alive and our sins can be forgiven, our guilt can be washed away and we can be children of God and citizens in His Kingdom – all because of what Jesus did on that cross!’

‘It wasn’t long after this that Jesus went back to be with His Father. While He’d been with us He’d come and gone as He’d wanted, just appearing or disappearing, sometimes even appearing in a locked room. But now that He was going to leave us, going to heaven so that He could send the Holy Spirit, He left in a different way. I guess He could have just gone, disappeared and not come back, but if He’d done that we’d all have been thinking, ‘Maybe He’s not gone for good? Maybe He’ll come back if we just wait.’ I think Jesus understood that we needed to know He’d really gone back to His Father in heaven, so one day He took the 11 of us, His apostles, to the Mount of Olives about a kilometre outside of Jerusalem. And as we stood there with Him, He rose up into the sky and a cloud, like the cloud that’d been on the top of that mountain the day three of us had seen Jesus transfigure before our eyes and His clothes turn whiter than white – a cloud just like that - hid Him from our eyes.’

‘Well, we all just stood there staring up into the sky, straining our eyes, trying to see if we could still catch a glimpse of Him, wondering if He was going to come back, not sure what was happening, when suddenly two angels, who looked liked men in bright white robes stood with us. I was staring so hard at the sky I didn’t even notice them until they spoke to us – it gave me a bit a shock when I realised who they were. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has been taken away from you into heaven. And someday, in the same way that you’ve seen Him go, He will return!’ And as they spoke I realised it was a gentle warning to us. Jesus had told us what He wanted us to do – to wait for the Holy Spirit and then tell people everywhere about Him. He didn’t want us to waste our time staring into the sky, but to get on and do what He’d asked.’

‘It was then that it really sunk in that Jesus had gone back to heaven. (P) But even though He’d gone, in a way we didn’t feel like He’d left us, because we could still talk to Him by praying, and He could still lead and guide us. He’d gone, but it wasn’t like those terrible days when He’d died. Now, even though He was in heaven, nothing could take Him from us.’

‘After that, we all went back to the house where we’d been staying. Then, with some of the women who followed Jesus, and with Mary His mother and His brothers, we spent our time either praising God in the temple for raising Jesus from the dead, or praying in that house, asking Jesus to do what He’d promised and send the Holy Spirit to help us tell the whole world about Him.’ (PAUSE)