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The Ascension (Part 1 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
April 12, 2021 4:00 am

The Ascension (Part 1 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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April 12, 2021 4:00 am

The Gospel story doesn’t end with Jesus’ death and resurrection. On Truth For Life, Alistair Begg teaches that without Christ’s ascension into heaven, His redeeming work would've been incomplete. Find out where Jesus is and what He’s doing now.


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Most of us as Christians understand the cheese dip is not the end of the gospel story. Many people think it does stop with his resurrection.

Luke's gospel tells us there's more without Christ's ascension to heaven. His story and our lives would be incomplete. So where is Jesus now and what's he doing Alastair Begg addresses these questions today on Truth for Life. Father, thank you for the privilege of giving our voices as part of the great cacophony of praise switches sends to you this day from nations and languages all around the world and from the angelic throng around your throne and have and we pray that as we start your help in singing. We seek your help in studying and ask that your blessing may attend our meditation upon your word for. We pray in Christ's name.

Amen. Luke chapter 24 in verse 50 when he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany. He lifted up his hands and blessed them while he was blessing them. He left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they stayed continually at the temple, praising God if you're using an NIV, you will see that about verse 50 that are just two words, namely the ascension the ascension the departure of Christ into heaven is arguably the least considered aspect of the work of Christ.

The average person in the street will know something about the birth of Jesus. If they know anything at all. It will probably and certainly this week, know something about the death of Jesus.

But if you were to ask him where Jesus presently is or what he is currently doing. They probably would be at sea and Lucentis his gospel with the story of the ascension and he begins his second volume, namely the book of acts also with a description.

A more detailed description of the ascension a moment's thought will make clear that without the ascension. The story is incomplete within incomplete story. We will focus on the wrong things and get it dreadfully wrong. The hymn writer's helper when, for example, we sing the words post-Easter that had that once was crowned with thorns is crowned with glory. Now, and a royal diadem adorns the mighty victors browser that are focusing our preoccupation is not with a bloodied and distressed Christ, but our focus and preoccupation is with the kingly Christ are reigning Christ, one who is now at his father's side. In the words with which we will end our worship this morning. We will remind ourselves before leaving we have a priest who's there interceding pouring his grace in our lives day by day.

Therefore, we have a most necessary reminder in these closing verses of where Jesus is and what Jesus is doing and suggest to you, and I hope I'm able to make it clear to you as we study the text that this may well be the necessary corrective for some of us who have been looking in other places to find an antidote to our dispirited nest perhaps to our defeat to our ongoing sense of failure, or to an abject sense of discouragement. The necessity of being reminded of the fact that Jesus is an ascended king now with three words.

We will trace a line through the text.

The first word is transition. The second word is ascension and the third word is reaction the transition to which I'm referring is identified for as in the opening verses of acts where Luke tells us that Jesus over a period of almost 7 weeks made appearances before his followers, and taught them concerning the kingdom of God, and I was Jesus did not simply rise from the dead and go directly to heaven.

I suppose it would've been possible for them to do so, we might have imagined that there were very good reasons for doing so.

After all the work of redemption is completed. What is it, what else is there for him to do.

He has made a full atonement and he is being raised in triumph over death. Therefore, why not just go directly to the father.

While this transition is an indication of what a wonderfully gracious friend and Savior. Jesus is because he takes time over 40 days to move amongst his followers and then appearing to them. He answers their questions. He helps to banish their fears. He teaches them all that they need to know and as we saw last time. In verse 46 and 47 Isley verse 45. He opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures, and he prepared them for the coming of the Holy Spirit and then and only then did he leave the city again. It is a mark of his grace in his kindness that he stayed around if you like, in order to provide in this transitional period, the kind of encouragement that his followers so desperately needed. And surely when they reflected on it. In later years when the time came for them to write down much of this material. They must've been glad of the transition. How glad Thomas doubting Thomas must've been Jesus had not left directly. Had he done so, Thomas would have been unable to address his doubts to meet his Savior to replace his doubting hands into the nail prints of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ and have his questions answered and his fears allay maturely, Peter and all of his discouragement ended, and in his disgrace was equally glad of the transition. He admits her royal hash of things.

Now I don't know the man. No, I never met the man know I may sound like a man. My accent may be similar, but no, I have no clue what you're talking about.

Then his eyes meeting the eyes of Jesus and then him going out into the night and weeping bitterly, eventually telling his followers.

I think I'm going back fishing how glad he was for the transition. Jesus comes and meets him on the shoulder and makes breakfast and gives him the opportunity to reinstate himself with a threefold affirmation of his love for Christ and hear Jesus say now. Go ahead Peter and do what I've asked you to do, don't you think the mother of Jesus was glad for the transition, for she had stood with others at night seeing and witness the sorry spectacle the brutality that was meted out upon her son or boy how glad she must've been and if in giving voice to the Magnificat. She did so in anticipation of all of this son would mean to her. Surely she was able to sing the Magnificat at this point in a way that she never done before. You know what I'm referring to. Don't you my soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for years.

Be mindful of the humble state of his servant as he had. He comes from the cross and he says disciple, your mother, mother, your son caring for his mother in that moment, but that was not the closing scene and how she along with the others is going to enjoy the journey back to Jerusalem. A joyful journey because the story doesn't end with a distressed Christ doesn't end with the crucified Christ, nor does it even end with a resurrected Christ, but it ends with an ascended Christ is Lord and he is carrying and I know many of you come from a background where this is difficult for you to hear.

But if you want a picture of the Virgin Mary have a dancing one for her and her conclusion was not in the PX there with her son and all of his bloodied distress but her and was with the company of the pilgrims going back to Jerusalem, rejoicing in the fight that our son who had been so dreadfully abused was none other than the ascended Lord and King.

And that's how she ended her life.

She did not end her life with the preoccupations that are customarily suggested to us. Those were real we mitigate them in no sense but I say again to you.

The Scriptures do not encourage us to and without bloodied distress and fearful Christ crucified hanging Christ or even resurrected Christ.

But in the most neglected aspect of the work of Christ, the encourage us to focus on the fact that he is an ascended Christ.

That's why we just on what we sign. I'm not sure that we all paid attention to Jesus, hail, worship Jesus enthroned in glory. That's where he is there for ever to abide as his dwelling place. He's coming back momentarily to add to the number of those joining him, but that's where he lives now and all the heavenly hosts a door you seated at your father's side. What are you doing there. Jesus therefore sinners you are pleading and our place. You now prepare how he's doing that. I don't know, presumably using helpers. Now I know this girl. She lives involves I would like her room to look just like this and this check was coming. He likes a kind of outdoor indoor architecture you asked me others sit out in the unit. Let's get his place just wonderfully the way he anticipates it, and outplace you know for prayer you prepared and all was for is interceding to in glory. We appear you see these words given necessary corrective to the fight that we've lost Jesus along the journey. Where is he is in the father's right hand. What is he doing repairing our place pleading our case that's the first word transition. The second word is ascension, while verse 51. He was blessing them. He left them and was taken up into heaven. The Lord Jesus had lived perfectly fulfilling the law he fulfill the will of the father completely he had accomplished the work of atonement, he had risen in triumph and so I can imagine a night say so reverently that when here in verse 50.

He takes the followers with them out to familiar territory for Bethany on the foothills of the Mount of olives, the slopes of the Mount of olives was certainly familiar place. It was the home of Lazarus and Martha and Mary. They went there with frequency.

It was here that they had gathered on a number of occasions and as he takes them out. He must essentially turn to them and say well that's it. There's nothing more for me to do.

I I've done it all that pretty little wraps it up and I'm outta here. George usually say I'm outta here.

Nobody would say something like that in Aramaic made you think you should arm all departing you know now that were his friends. He spoke to them. They spoke like normal people.

They were normal people filers with you. You've watched me. You listen to me you followed me. I've died for you. I risen for you and now I'm leaving I'm leaving now is followers not being completely blindsided by this because he'd actually told them in Luke chapter 9, you may want just to look at this. To refresh your memory in Luke chapter 9 in the record of the Transfiguration. Remember Jesus to Peter and James and John with him and he went up to the mountain to pray and in the context of that verse 32 men, Moses, Elijah appeared in glorious splendor and they were talking with Jesus and wanted to talk about while we spoke about his departure which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. He was about to bring his departure to fulfillment is an interesting expression is in other words, it's almost as if the whole thing was about his departure that then his whole journey was a prolonged departure that he had left the glory of heaven that he had come to earth he been born as a baby lived as a man died, his Savior, and the whole thing was working towards his departure and find the word is Exodus. He spoke about his Exodus, Moses also was able to speak about an Exodus. He'd been able to be presuming I compared Exodus is with one another. You know, and Moses, I will you remember my Exodus for their brother people out of Egypt liberated them from the bondage of Egypt.

Yes, Jesus, and that was wonderful.

And in my Exodus. I'm going to lead my people out from the bondage of sin.

In verse 51, Luke follows up with this notion and he describes the timeline in relationship to his ascension. Luke 951 as the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem and doesn't say is the time approached for him to die. Although it may well have said that and it says that in other places, but in this context. Luke says is the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven. That's ultimately what he's doing. He is going back to the father and to glory. Everything else will take place in process.

Until then, and in John chapter 20, when Mary Magdalene meets Jesus in the garden post-resurrection and falls at his feet and grabs him Jesus. You remember says Mary don't hang onto me like that.

I have not yet ascended to my father I'm not staying here. I'm in a transition of the moment, but I am moving forward. Know the verbs were helpful to me and just setting the picture clearly in my mind.

Verse 50. The verb to lead and when he had led them out the old story of their journey had been about Jesus as their leader.

He had come to them and said, follow me, and they had begun to follow him and hear the very end of it all, there still following.

He sets out before them.

He is in every sense.

Their leader, he is therefore runner. He is the firstfruits of those who fall asleep, and he leads them out out to a location where only a matter of a few weeks ago he had dispatched a couple of them to go and get a donkey farm to write on your remember that in the triumphal entry hereby to Luke chapter 19 right around verse 28 or so will discover the once again there in Bethany and they're about to begin another journey and he leads them Peter and John and James and Andrew and Philip and Bartholomew and Matthew and James the son of Alpheus and Simon the zealot, Judas, the son of James and the women, Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers and all the rest of them. He leads them out and then were told he lifted up his hands. He leads them out. He lifts his hands, they would understand this gesture in a way that most of us do not, whether they understood it in terms of the ironic priestly blessing the Lord bless you and keep you, as we often will say from numbers or whether they thought of it in terms of Moses departure or the departure of Jacob.

In Genesis 49 we remember in there. He blesses all of the sons of Israel. It was customary for someone of stature and significance, not simply to walk out the door and walk away, but to extend blessing upon those who were in his custody and under his care, and it surely was very meaningful to them that their final view of their beloved master is a picture of him with his hands raised in blessing upon you see there's another reason that without the transition that would not of been the final view, it wouldn't of been the final view for Mary.

It wouldn't be in the final view for Peter. It wouldn't of been the final view for Thomas. What a gracious Savior.

What a wonderful Lord we have a lots to lift his hands up in blessing upon his own says but I bless you with my love and with my life and with my power.

And with my will, you will remember Longview from our studies in Joseph, the way we say hello in the way we see a goodbye really matters if it matters on a superficial level in terms of our interpersonal relationships should be no surprise that it really matter to Jesus that it wasn't just a passing jester hey guys I'll see you but rather when he said I'm out of here. I'm leaving I'm going.

He didn't just walk away. He stood with his hands raised in blessing and you will notice he leads them out. He lifts his hands and then he leaves them. Luke tells us, with an eye for detail that while he was still blessing them. He left so there very final picture of him, his posture before them. Is this wonderful picture God loves to bless.

As you know, Jesus loves to bless us. Jesus is far more willing to blesses than we are to even take the time to ask him to bless us.

He loves to do so that the picture you have of Christ with his hands raised in blessing on your life. You may, you should know. Isn't it wonderful that he leaves in such a decisive and defining way. If the appearances of Jesus are just going fewer and fewer and then petered out.

Nobody would've really known what was going on. You know if they said to one another while he was is a week since he was here and you think you'll come back again while he was here last two weeks ago he did, that is. I wonder if you will do that this week if it all just been going away from them dissipates and they wouldn't of known so Jesus very decisively and very wonderfully leaves them in no doubt that he is at the end.

He's at the end. He's at the beginning. It is the end of the beginning is the beginning of the end it's the end of all that Jesus had begun to do and teach, as Luke says in his second volume now the responsibility of teaching. Now the responsibility of proclaiming the kingdom of God is going to fall to his followers as they are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

It's now over to them to take the news of repentance and faith to all the nations in there to begin this evangelism program as we saw last time. Beginning in Jerusalem, but he wants his disciples to understand, they will no longer be able to see him and talk with him as before, and they're about to discover that what he had told him previously about how good this was going to be that he was true when and what he said. Mary said in John 16. I'm going to go away from you, and when I rolled it. Father will send the counselor the comforter, the third person of this, the Trinity, the Holy Spirit will, and he will abide with you forever and is essentially it while he was blessing them. He left them and was taken up into heaven, there you have the ascension in a sentence I say to you again that it is an ongoing matter of wonder to me that in the most pivotal points in Christianity, the Scriptures are so cryptic.

There is no elaboration listing to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg when a series called the Gospel according to Luke her message today affirms that Jesus is the ascended king.

He died, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. This is the truth that is at the heart of the gospel and having certainty about his resurrection is fundamental to all, but we believe that's why were recommending a book called alive how the resurrection of Christ changes everything. The author of this book presents a thorough investigation of the facts surrounding the account of Jesus resurrection from the dead. He looks carefully at both the historical and biblical proof. When you read the book alive, you'll gain more confidence about all that's written in the gospel record and if you're already a follower of Jesus, but have a skeptical friend. The book alive will give you great help explaining the conviction you have the Jesus did in fact rise from the dead, you can draw from all the extensive proof in the book to encourage others to consider the claims of Christianity. Requester copy of the book alive. When you give to support the Bible teaching you hear on this program. Visit us online at, click the image in the app or call us at 888-588-7884 when you donate your giving makes it possible for all balusters teaching to be heard through a wide variety of channels and give you an additional option for listing to Truth for Life.

Now here truthful. I find your Apple Watch if you have an Apple watch series 3 or later. Just open the podcast app on your phone search for truth for like programs and subscribe find out more by going to truthful. Watch about Lapine. Thanks for joining us. Alastair continues today's message tomorrow by examining the disciples response to Jesus ascension.

How is their reaction. An example for our lives today. Find out as you listen tomorrow.

The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the learning is reliving

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