THIS SAME JESUS… The book of Acts records the last words of Jesus, spoken from the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives at Bethany. "’...You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’” Acts 1:8-10.
Indeed, why do we stand here looking into the vast expanse of this world, trying to figure out what is going on? Can we not see exactly what has happened, as it was appointed 3500 years ago in Leviticus 23? The Jewish babe born in Bethlehem as foretold by the prophets, was condemned to die on the Holy day of Passover by the same religious folk who claimed to serve the Almighty God of the Universe. The appointed and anointed Lamb of God conquered death, rose from the grave, and became the Holy and acceptable FirstFruits offering for the entire timeline of mankind, guaranteeing our future resurrection. And this same Jesus ascended to heaven, literally melding earth into heaven with His physical body bearing the scars of His death and resurrection!
God's Word records the Resurrected Son of God sharing, worshipping, and performing miracles to as many as 500 of His disciples in Jerusalem and the Galilee during 11 separate occasions before He ascended to heaven. If the disciples were here today, they would tell us these were the most precious days of their entire lives! We NEED this timely lesson from the Almighty to remind us that they should be just as important to us, too.
Counting forward 40 days from His resurrection on the day of Firstfruits, the 16th day of God's 1st month, April 18 on our 2022 calendar, would position the anniversary of Jesus' ascension into heaven around May 26 or 27 on our current calendar. (Some count forward from Easter, others don’t observe Ascension Day until the nearest Sunday.)
Who can forget Jesus intimate encounters during the 40 days before His ascension? One of the most memorable is the description of "Doubting Thomas" as announced “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” John 20:25
"Then He (Jesus) said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put in into my side. Stop doubling and believe.'" John 20:27.
Jesus even tucked in a special message to us 21st century believers when He said to Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. John 20:29
The poignant pictures in John 21 of the miraculous catch Jesus gave several of the disciples after they had fished all night and netted nothing are mesmerizing. Jesus even stayed around to make breakfast for all of them from their catch. Afterwards, He gave Peter, the disciple who had denied Him three times, the opportunity to say that He loved Jesus, not once, but three times…
The "disciple whom Jesus loved", closed the book of John with this astute observation of Jesus' incredible 40 days: "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." John 21:25
Yes, this second month on God's calendar is the divinely appointed time for Jesus to appear to His disciples after His Resurrection. It is also the month just before the Pentecost fulfillment of His incredible promise that He would not leave us alone as orphans, but would send us “…another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17.
John 14:26 also says He has gifted us with the powerful presence of an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom He promised “…will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
And that is exactly what is happening at this very moment. The Holy Spirit is announcing that just as the disciples witnessed Jesus returning to heaven, so shall the people of God soon witness the physical Son of Man returning to rule and reign over this earth, His Kingdom, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
“THIS SAME JESUS, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven…”