The Geographical Journeys of The Lord
It is a magnificent truth that in the incarnation God became man, one Person, yet full deity and perfect humanity, inseparable, yet each distinct. In the ascension, the man who was God entered Heaven, and for the first time there was a man of flesh and bone in the glory, the spirit world. We must never lose sight that in the incarnation He did not cease to be God, neither was His deity modified, for He eternally is the unchangeable God (Mal. 3:6). In His ascension He did not cease to be man, neither was that modified to live in Heaven. Having said that, it must be acknowledged that the body He had after resurrection was similar to, but yet different from that which He had afterward.
The ascension of our Lord was the beginning of God’s stamp of approval of who He was and what He had done. In my meditations I have found 19 references in the gospels, four in the Acts, and six in the Epistles. This is not considering the Lord’s place or work in Heaven, strictly His journey there.
When the Lord rose from the dead it was unseen by human eyes, but in contrast, His ascension was. Why did it not matter that they did not see the resurrecting but a necessity for them to see the ascension? When it was the resurrection they saw the evidence of it, and did not need to see the event happening. There was no doubt He had died. The wound in His side with the spear would have caused His death had He not already been dead, but now they saw Him, talking, walking, standing, eating, and this was the evidence He Had risen and was alive. Had He gone to Heaven without being seen and witnessed to by the men (Acts 1:10-11), how would anyone have known where He had gone? This was a necessity to assure them and the saints through the years that he had ascended. Blessed privileges. They did not see the act but saw the results, Him risen from the dead and in the other they saw the act, but not the results. Thank God they did see Him rise otherwise, all of Hebrews and Revelation would be nothing more than intriguing manuscripts of a dreamer.
To help us appreciate the wonder of this event, it would almost seem that the Holy Spirit cannot find words in the ancient language to convey to our hearts its greatness. Like a woman looking at a beautiful dress, she could say: “It beautiful, so exquisite, so delicate, superlatively made”. She would be searching for words to describe the dress, each with a slightly different meaning. When it comes to the journey of the Lord back to Heaven, the Holy Spirit uses 14 words:
It is interesting that neither Matthew nor John tell of the ascension. One would have thought that Matthew, the Gospel where the Lord is presented as King, would tell that He had gone up to the throne, or that John, who speaks more often of the ascension than any other New Testament writer, would have told of it, but neither does. Mark, the Gospel where the Lord is presented as the worker, tells of it, for this is the second step in the recompense of God for His Servant. The first was His resurrection.
There are those translations that italicize or delete verses nine to twenty. This is basically based on three manuscripts: Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Alexandrinus which are intimated to be the earliest manuscripts ranging between 300 and 450 AD. This is not the case, and indeed one of these, the Vaticanus, is in the Vatican and has never been physically examined by experts. The other two are in the British Museum.
When these verses are left out, or the intimation given that they were not in the original, it results in the servant of God in a grave! If that is where service to God ends, then why not live as I want? Furthermore, if they are left out there is not a single verse in all the scriptures which tell exactly which day the Lord rose from the dead, for only Mark tells us: “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week” (Mk. 16:9). In the Feasts of Jehovah, the sheaf of first fruits was waved before the Lord “on the morrow after the Sabbath” (Lev. 23:10-11). Understanding that the Sabbath was a Saturday, the day after it was a Sunday, or the first day of the week.
We watch as He goes before them. The disciples and those who followed did not know this occasion was going to be different from that which had happened before (Mk. 4:20, 25; 6:1). They were seeing one of the greatest historical acts this world would ever witness when they saw Him walk the last steps of His earthly sojourn. He then seemingly turns and stands, and does one action and speaks. He deliberately lifted up his hands and begins to bless them. It would seem, before that happened, they unwittingly are asking their last questions of Him. They had asked Him concerning the Kingdom and He answers: “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power”. (Acts 1:7)
It seems to me it is at that point He lifts His hands and begins to bless them (Lk. 24:50). We are not told, nor are we given any hint as to what he said, but as they watch Him He suddenly begins to rise. There is no rush to hold Him, and He begins His journey to and through the skies. It is all over in a matter of seconds, and we read those amazing words: “A cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). With hearts filled with wonder and delight we read: “And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God”. (Lk. 24:52-53)
What was that cloud? In appearance it may have
been like a fluffy white thing, but it was more than that. It would
appear to me that it was the “Cloud” that led Israel; the “Cloud” that
was on the mount of transfiguration; the very Shekinah glory of God.
Then we read: “and it received Him” (Acts 1:9). That is, the glory of
God came down close to earth and Christ began His ascent “in glory” (1
Tim. 3:16). (I have changed the wording to “in glory” because the Greek
preposition is “en” and indicates rest and continuance.)
Copyright © 2012 by Rowan Jennings, Abbotsford, British Columbia