Bible Society of South Africa

Ascension - 2 May 2024

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

9After saying this, he was taken up to heaven as they watched him, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

We will only celebrate Ascension Day next Thursday, so why talk about it now? It is because I am inviting you to accompany me on the road to the start and eventual growth of the church of Jesus Christ. To be able to do this, we must start at the very beginning – a beginning in which the ascension played a crucial role. You might remember the time when Ascension Day was a public holiday, but that is no more. There are even congregations that do not have an Ascension Day service any more.

It is a pity, as this day plays such an important role in the beginning of the church. With the birth of Jesus, God started to implement his plan for the people of the second covenant. This plan also involved a cross, an empty tomb and with Ascension Day, began the next episode in God’s plan. We are living in this era and we are part of his plan, because we are part of the very church that is fulfilling the call to evangelise the world. In his own time, God will write the final episode with the second coming of Christ.

The ascension brings a totally new dimension to the execution of this plan. Before he was taken into heaven, Jesus chose his followers and equipped them by his teachings and sermons. After his ascension, this was left for the church to do. That does not mean Jesus has distanced himself from the church – after all, he is sitting at the right hand of God from where he governs his church.

Despite what they have witnessed and experienced, his followers were still hoping that he would give the kingdom back to Israel, so Jesus had to correct this mistake. The role of the church is not to bring about kingdoms on earth, but to bring about the kingdom of God. Therefore, Jesus instructed them to go out and evangelise the world. This is still the mission of the church and, thus, of you and I who call ourselves Christians.

Prayer: Jesus, please make us aware of how important your ascension is for your church in this world. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.21.9
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