He Ascended Into Heaven

2020-05-24 – Year A – Easter 7 – Ascension – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas

Acts 1:1-14; Psalm 47; John 17:1-11

The Glorification of Jesus

  • Glory – “praise, honor, or distinction extended by common consent.”
    • Military honor won on the battlefield.
    • Athletic achievement at events like the Superbowl.
    • Distinction earned through academic or career accomplishments.
  • Glorify (doxazo, v.) “has the special biblical sense ‘to give or have a share in the divine glory’”
  • John 17:4-5
    • v. 4 The Son glorified the Father, this was part of his work on earth.
    • v. 5 Jesus asks the Father to glorify him now that his earthly work was coming to an end.
    • This is a restoration of the Glory which the Son had from the beginning.
      • Philippians 2:7 – Jesus emptied himself
      • Philippians 2:9 – “Therefore God has highly exalted him…”
  • Nicene Creed “…he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.”
    • The right hand of a ruler is a place of honor and glory, but it is also a seat of power and authority.

The Kingdom of God

  • John 17:2 – the Father has given the Son authority over all flesh.
  • In the 40 days that Jesus spent with the disciples between the Resurrection and the Ascension, Luke tells us that Jesus was speaking about the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
    • We know from the Gospels that this was a frequent topic of teaching during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Now, after the Resurrection, this teaching must have included the meaning of Jesus’ victory over death.
    • Just before Jesus ascends into heaven, his disciples ask him one last time, “Lord. will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)
      • They were still living in the mindset of a political victory over Roman oppression to restore the national sovereignty of Israel.
      • Old habits die hard!
      • We have a tendency to want to go backward, towards what is familiar to us. The Israelites wanted to return to Egypt just a few short weeks after their liberation from slavery!
      • Disruption is often a gift from God. It helps us to see outside of what is familiar. As we begin the slow process of regathering our church, I want us all to be thinking together about what we can learn from this time of separation and praying about what God might be calling us to do differently.
  • Jesus reigns right now, not just over Israel but over the whole Kingdom of God. Both Jews and non-Jews, all who will follow him as King. And yet, we know that there is more to come. That the Kingdom has not yet reached its fullness.
    • This is why Jesus has promised that he will come again.
    • We, like Jesus’ disciples, what to know when.
    • He reiterates what he had said at other times in the Gospels, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority” (Acts 1:7).

The Mission of God Through the People of God

  • So what are we supposed to do, just wait? Yes, but it is an active waiting!
  • “You will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8)
  • In other words, the mission of God is to be accomplished through the people of God.
    • Not by power and might and coercion, but through witness.
    • A witness is someone who has seen something with their own eyes and uses their experience to tell others.
      • For first century Apostles, they actually witnessed Jesus’ resurrection.
      • You are obviously not a witness to the Resurrection, but you are a witness to what God has done in your own life. How he has transformed you. How he has saved you.
    • The people of God are to spread the message of the Kingdom of God to the ends of the earth by bearing witness to Jesus.
  • If this seems like a large and overwhelming responsibility, it is! But Jesus has promised to be with us as we continue to move forward in his mission. You can’t do this in your own strength.
  • “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8). That is where we will continue next week!

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