The resurrection and return of Jesus Christ
In Acts 1,9 we are told: "And when he said that, he was rapidly lifted up and a cloud took him away before their eyes." I would like to ask a simple question at this point: why? Why was Jesus taken away in this way? But before we get to that, we read the next three verses: "And when they watched him go to heaven, behold, there were two men in white robes with them. They said: Men of Galilee, what are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus, who was taken up to heaven by you, will come back as you saw him go to heaven. Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain, which is called the Mount of Olives and is close to Jerusalem, a Sabbath way away. »
This passage describes two things: that Jesus ascended into heaven and that he will come again. Both facts are important for the Christian faith and therefore also anchored, for example, in the Apostles' Creed. First, Jesus went up to heaven. Ascension Day is celebrated every year 40 days after Easter, always on a Thursday.
The second point that this passage describes is that Jesus will come again in the same way as he has ascended. That's why, I believe, Jesus also left this world in a visible way.
It would have been very easy for Jesus to let his disciples know that he was going to see his father and that he would come again. After that, he would simply have disappeared, as he had done several times before. Except that he would not be seen again this time. I can not think of a theological justification for Jesus leaving the earth so visibly, but he did it to teach his disciples, and therefore us too.
By visibly disappearing into the air, Jesus made it clear that he would not only disappear, but that he would ascend to heaven to mediate on the right side of the Father for us as the eternal high priest and to put in a good word. As one author said: "He is our representative in heaven". We have someone in heaven who understands who we are, can understand our weaknesses and knows our needs because he himself is human. Even in heaven he is both: all human and all God.
Even after the Ascension, he is referred to as a human in the Bible. When Paul preached to the inhabitants of Athens on the Areopagus, he said that God will judge the world by a man whom he has appointed and that this man is Jesus Christ. When he wrote to Timothy, he called him the man Christ Jesus. He is still a man now and still has a body. His body rose from the dead and took him to heaven.
This leads to the question of where his body is now? How can God, who is omnipresent and therefore not bound to space, matter and time, also have a body that is in a certain place? Is the body of Jesus Christ somewhere in the universe? I dont know. I do not know how Jesus appeared behind closed doors and how he could ascend into heaven, regardless of gravity. Apparently the physical laws do not apply to the body of Jesus Christ. It is still a body, but it does not have the limitations we would attribute to a body.
That still does not answer the question of where his body is now. It's not the most important thing we have to worry about! We must know that Jesus is in heaven, but not where the sky is. It is much more important for us to know the following about the spiritual body of Jesus - the way Jesus works among us here and now on earth, he does through the Holy Spirit.
As Jesus ascended into heaven with his body, he made it clear that he will continue to be man and God. This assures us that he is the high priest who is familiar with our weaknesses, as it is written in Hebrews. By ascending visibly to heaven, we are assured once again that he has not simply disappeared, but continues to act as our high priest, mediator and mediator.
In my opinion, there is another reason why Jesus has visibly left us. He said the following to his disciples in John 16,7: «But I tell you the truth: it is good for you that I go away. Because if I don't go away, the comforter won't come to you. But if I go, I will send it to you. »
I do not know exactly why, but it seems Jesus had to ascend to heaven before Pentecost could take place. When the disciples saw Jesus rise, they had received the promise, the reception of the Holy Spirit. So there was no sadness, at least none is described in Acts. There was no sadness that the good old days were over with Jesus of flesh and blood. The past was not glossed over, but the future in joyful expectation in the view taken. There was a joy for the even greater things that Jesus announced and promised.
As we read on in the book of Acts, we find an excited mood among the 120 followers. They gathered, prayed, and planned the work that needed to be done. Knowing that they had a mission, they chose a new apostle to rebuild the post of Judas Iscariot. They also knew that they needed twelve men to represent the new Israel that planned to build God. They had a business meeting because they had business to do. Jesus had already given them the task of going to the world as his witnesses. They only had to wait in Jerusalem, as he told them, until they were filled with the power from above and received the promised comforter.
The Assumption Jesus was a moment of suspense: the disciples were waiting for the next step to expand their activity, for Jesus had promised them that they would do greater things with the Holy Spirit than Jesus Himself. The visible ascension of Jesus was therefore the promise of even greater things.
Jesus called the Holy Spirit "another comforter". In Greek there are two words for "another". One means "something the same" and the other means "something different". Jesus used the expression “something like that”. The Holy Spirit is like Jesus. The spirit is a personal presence of God and not just a supernatural force.
The Holy Spirit lives and teaches and speaks and makes decisions. The Holy Spirit is a person, a divine person and part of God. The Holy Spirit is so similar to Jesus that we can also speak of Jesus living in us and in the Church. Jesus said that he stays with the one who believes and lives in that, and that is exactly what he does in the person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus went away, but he did not leave us alone. He came back through the Holy Spirit who lives in us. But he will also come back in a physical and visible way, and I believe that is precisely the main reason for his visible ascension. So we do not get the idea to say that Jesus is already here in the form of the Holy Spirit and we should not expect more from Him than what we already have.
No, Jesus makes it very clear that His return will not be an invisible and secret mission. It will happen clearly. As visible as daylight and the rising of the sun. It will be visible to everyone, just as the Ascension Day was visible to anyone on the Mount of Olives for nearly 2000 years ago. This fact gives us the hope that we can expect more than what we now have before us. Now we see a lot of weakness. Weakness in us, in our church and in Christendom as a whole. We hope that things will change for the better, and we have the promise of Christ that he will return in a dramatic way and usher in the Kingdom of God greater and greater than we can imagine. He will not leave things as they are now.
He will return in the same way he ascended to heaven: visible and physical. Even details that I do not consider particularly important will be there: the clouds. Just as he has ascended in clouds, he will also return in clouds. I do not know what the clouds mean; it seems that the clouds symbolize angels walking with Christ, but they may also have been physical clouds. I mention this only marginally. The important thing is that Christ will return in a dramatic way. There will be flashes of light, loud noises, phenomenal signs of sun and moon, and everyone will see it. It will undoubtedly be recognizable and nobody will be able to say that this is happening elsewhere. This is beyond question, these events will happen everywhere at the same time. When this happens, Paul tells us in 1. Thessalonians, we will ascend to meet Christ on the clouds in the air. This practice is known as the Rapture and will not take place in secret. It will be a public rapture because everyone can see Christ returning to earth. So we become part of the Ascension of Jesus, just as we are also part of his crucifixion, burial and resurrection. We too will ascend to heaven to meet the Lord when he returns and together with him we will return to earth ,
Does it make a difference?
We do not know when all this will happen. Does it therefore make a difference in our lives? That should be it. In the 1. Corinthians and 1. John is told about it. Let's 1. See John 3,2-3:
«Dear ones, we are already children of God; but what we will be has not yet been revealed. But we know that if it becomes apparent, we will be like him; because we will see him as he is. And everyone who has such hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. »
John goes on to say that believers listen to God and do not want to lead a sinful life. That is a practical effect of what we believe in. Jesus will come again and we will be like him. This does not mean that our efforts save us or our guilt sinks, but we are in accordance with God's will not to sin.
The second biblical conclusion is in the first Letter to the Corinthians in chapter 15. After explaining the return of Christ and our resurrection to immortality, Paul writes in v. 58:
"Therefore, my dear brothers, be firm, steadfast and always increase in the Lord's work, because you know that your work in the Lord is not in vain."
There is work to do for us, as the first disciples had to do work at that time. He also gives us the assignment that Jesus gave them. We have the mission to preach and pass on the good news. We have received the Holy Spirit for that, so we can do just that. We do not stand around, look up into the sky and wait for Christ. We also do not have the Bible at a precise time. Scripture tells us that we should not know the second coming of Jesus. Instead, we have the promise that Jesus will return and that should be enough for us. There is work to do. We are challenged with all our being for this work. Therefore we should turn to her because working for the Lord is not in vain.
by Michael Morrison