May 13, 2011
“While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven.”
The Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus
“He Was Blessing Them”
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Jesus often amazes me with His love and power. If I had more faith, then I guess I would expect to see more of His power and love, and not be so amazed. Even so, I love to see Jesus touch the lives of the people around me. He lets them out of prison. He sets them free from the power of sin, and releases them from the fear of death. One of my friends told about someone he knew who feared death, and worried when she heard about the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). As far as I know, she feared because she never had received the gift of eternal life. The gift of freedom from death and punishment has been open before her. She only needs to ask Jesus for forgiveness because He died for her, and believe in her heart that He died for all of her sins, and she will be saved from the lake of fire. It reminds me of this lizard I found in my garage this week. I was looking through some old boxes in my messy garage, and saw an old fish trap on the floor. It has large openings on the outside, that lead to small openings on the inside. Fish swim in to eat the bait inside the trap, but can not find their way out through the small openings. In this trap, in my garage, I saw a lizard about 12″ long. It was the biggest lizard I had ever seen here, that was not an iguana. I took the trap outside, opened the door and the lizard refused to go free. I had to coax him out of the trap. With the door to freedom wide open, the lizard stayed trapped. Finally, he went out the door, and stood in front of my front door, proudly displaying himself with his tail curled up in the air. He was free, and I was happy. Jesus loves to make each of us happy with freedom from the penalty of sin. He also made the disciples happy with His ministry to them from the time of His resurrection until His ascension. We have been looking at His ministry during that time, and today we will see Him ascend to heaven.
Jesus Led Them. I love the simple phrases of Scripture. In this last picture of Jesus before His ascension, Jesus leads His disciples out of Jerusalem, and goes as far as Bethany (Luke 24:50). Jesus loves to lead us just like He lead His disciples. He does not ask us to go anywhere by ourselves, but commands us to follow His lead. As Jesus concludes His post-resurrection ministry, and prepares to ascend to heaven, He leads His disciples. He has promised them the leading and power of the Holy Spirit, and asked them to wait in Jerusalem for His coming upon them with fire and power.
He Lifted Up His Hands and Blessed Them. So often I meet people who think Jesus constantly points a finger of condemnation and rebuke at them. They tend to forget that Jesus left this earth, lifting up His hands, and blessing His disciples. He left them while He was blessing them. He had not finished His blessing, but was continuing to bless them even while He ascended (Luke 24:50-51). Jesus loves to create powerful and lasting images for His disciples and for us. We should meditate upon this carefully planned exit up, up and away. We know He will come back in the same way, and same place that He left (Acts 1:11).
He Parted from Them. Jesus left them physically when He ascended, but not spiritually. Remember that Jesus had already promised to be with them until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). He had said He was never alone, because the Father was always with Him (John 16:32). In the same way, they would never be alone. Now as He parted from them, He was carried away to heaven (Luke 24:51).
They Worshipped Him. God seeks believers to worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). Therefore, it should not surprise us that the disciples worshipped Jesus after He had been taken up from them (Luke 24:52). Notice too that they had great joy as they headed back to Jerusalem, and were continually praising God in the temple. For believers in fellowship with God, we should be in the habit of worshipping Jesus and rejoicing in Him. He should dominate our lives with His spiritual presence, and we should dwell upon this final picture of Jesus blessing His disciples, they in turn worshipping Him, and rejoicing, even after He ascended. They were no longer grief stricken, because their grief had been turned into joy (John 16:20). They had seen the Savior again and knew He would be with them.
So we learn more about the Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus.
● Jesus left this earth with His arms lifted up, and blessing the disciples before Him. Jesus created this image of Himself to leave in the mind of all His disciples. He loved them, and blessed them. We should always keep this image in our hearts to strengthen and comfort us with the love of the Lord Jesus.
● The disciples worshipped Jesus even after He ascended. The disciples did not immediately fall into grief, but into praises. Jesus left them rejoicing in Him, as a reflection of their love for Him as He went to His Father (John 14:28). Jesus seeks our worship and our joy, every day, all day. He loves us and blesses us constantly.
● Jesus continues to lead us every day. We follow Him, and He promised that we will be with Him, because He will return, and take us to a place He prepared for us to be with Him forever (John 14:3).
Application for Today
Jesus planned for me to remember He left while blessing His disciples. His blessing continues today, and we should respond with our worship today. I will rejoice today in His presence, and know He abides within me today. Do you see His arms lifted in blessing, and worship Him, with rejoicing, as you go about His mission today?