Many emphasize the resurrection of Jesus, but few discuss what happened after His appearances. Where did Jesus go?
The event is what Christians call the ascension of Jesus. Acts 1:9-11 reveal what took place following 40 days of appearances by the resurrected Jesus:
“And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’”
This description follows the one other clear discussion of the ascension made in Luke 24:50-53:
“Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.”
The ascension of Jesus includes the following important observations:
Jesus is eternal and equal with God the Father and God the Spirit
Jesus returned to heaven. He had been there before His earthly ministry in eternity past with the Father and Spirit as part of the Triune God. Jesus was not created; He is eternal and all things are created through Him (Colossian 1:16).
Jesus returned to heaven
Both Luke and Acts record Jesus leaving earth to return to heaven. Acts 1 says, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven…” Luke 25 adds “he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.” There is no doubt Jesus is in heaven today.
Jesus is preparing a place for His followers
In John 14:2-3, Jesus taught, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” Our Lord has a magnificent arrival in the works for His children.
Jesus will return again
The two angels in Acts 1 told the apostles, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Jesus did not take a one-way trip. He will return for His people, according to the passages concerning the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and His second coming (Revelation 19).
The ascension is a cause for rejoicing: The final words of Luke’s Gospel regarding the ascension note the disciples “worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.” Still today, those who follow Christ can rejoice at what He has done, what He is doing, and what He plans to do.