Multiple ancient texts tell us that forty days after Jesus was raised from the dead, He ascended into heaven. But what exactly does that mean? If Jesus was victorious over sin, death, and the grave, why wouldn’t He have stayed with His followers in Jerusalem? Indeed, it would have been easier to convince a skeptical world of the truth of the resurrection if Jesus’ physical body was still walking around on earth. Join us as we explore Jesus’ ascension and what it teaches us about heaven, earth, being human, and God’s ultimate plan.
Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Timothy 3:16
Why did Jesus leave?
Wouldn’t it have been better if He had stayed?
Where is Jesus now, and does He still have a physical body?
What is the significance of the Ascension for us today?
Use this outline for personal reflection, as a couples or family devotion, or with a small group.
The church highlights five significant events in the life and ministry of Jesus; His incarnation (birth), crucifixion (death), resurrection, ascension, and the anticipation of His return. Of these five, which gets the most attention? Which gets the least? Why?
What “mystery” is Paul talking about? To whom was this mystery entrusted, and how was it shared?
By what means have Gentiles become “fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ”?
What “grace” was given to Paul? Why would Paul have considered himself “the very least of all the saints”? What does Paul’s status as the “least of all the saints” suggest about whom God chooses to use to accomplish His mission?
How is God making His “manifold wisdom” known? To whom is God making it known? What are the rulers and authorities in heavenly places?
Where can we find the “boldness and confidence” to participate with God in His great redemptive work?
According to this passage, where is God’s power at work? Read John 16:7 and Acts 1:8-9. Based on these verses, what was the purpose of Jesus’ ascension?
Read and discuss the following quote from theologian N.T. Wright: “The twist at the end of the story comes when Saint Paul writes (Ephesians 1.20-23) that the power which raised the crucified Jesus from the dead, and which exalted him in triumph in God’s own space, ruling over every other authority and every human power — this same power is what God now wants to exercise through his people. The victory of Jesus over the evil in the world is not simply a fait accompli which could be disproved by the continuance of evil to this day. It is a victory waiting to be implemented through his followers.”
How should this affect the way we understand and act as a church?
Imagine the resurrected Jesus standing before God, interceding for you right now. What is He saying to the Father about you? What is He saying about our church? Talk about it, invite accountability, and take time to pray together.
Most of the letters in the New Testament were written to congregations. As we read through 1 & 2 Corinthians this month, invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you about our church and the part He has for you in it.
Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship, by N.T. Wright
Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright
Check out these and other suggested books at https://bit.ly/AspireSMB