“Ascension Day is the 40th day of Easter. It occurs 39 days after Easter Sunday. It is a Christian holiday that commemorates Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven, according to Christian belief.” timeanddate.com
Honestly it’s hardly thought of or mentioned in most of the largest denominations of the Christian faith in the USA. I grew up in the largest US denomination and it wasn’t mentioned or celebrated. And as I learned this morning, it’s a national holiday in the largely Muslim nation of Indonesia!
How can this be?! 🙂
Anyway, the non denominational Bible Church we attend in our new city as of a year ago has been reading together the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs this year in an organized fashion following the ancient, liturgical church calendar. So we are all aware today is the 40th day of Easter and the end of Eastertide, a period of celebrating the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Isn’t it amazing, as I pause to think about it, that the Risen Lord, having brought to a close the most important chapter in His redemption-of-mankind story, didn’t just immediately return to the beautiful, glorious, powerful, peaceful side of His All Powerful Father? Wouldn’t you have?
Instead He lingered for forty days and spent some additional special moments with certain followers and groups of followers. I suppose because He loved them. And it was part of His plan that they know for sure He was Risen from the dead, by and in the power of the Holy Spirit Who He promised to send to them as they now waited obediently in Jerusalem. It would be only ten more days, the Day of Pentecost, but I doubt they knew when He would come and what it would look like.
So up until then, 39 days since His Resurrection, He had appeared here and there, and according to some of them, speaking for all of them I’m sure, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He opened the Scriptures to us.”
Very understated, and humble, like He always was, there were 10 times or more in all: in the garden to Mary Magdalene first, to the disciples at supper that same evening, in the Galilee on a certain mountain and by the sea, and finally in Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives, from where He ascended up into Heaven and out of their sight.
“Following His Resurrection from the dead, Jesus made a number of appearances to his followers—no less than ten of these are recorded in Scripture. Beginning on Resurrection Sunday, He “showed himself alive . . . by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3, KJV) and instructed His apostles and many other followers periodically for forty days. He then ascended from Mount Olivet, near Jerusalem, while the apostles watched (Acts 1:9–12).”
“Paul included a summary statement in 1 Corinthians 15 that provides information about these appearances and others unrecorded in the Gospels or Acts.”
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. (1 Corinthians 15:3–7)”.
I hope you can take some time today to mediate on these events, and especially the Ascension. They show us much about our Lord, Redeemer, and King. The Lover of our souls.
Happy Ascension Day 2020!!