Christ’s ascension

The Risen One remained on earth and appeared to His own for another 40 days after His resurrection. This is reported in all of the gospels and in 1 Corinthians 15: 5-7. Jesus made use of the time between His resurrection and ascension to show Himself as the “Living One” who had overcome death.

Mark 16: 19-20 relates only a few brief words about the Lord’s ascension: “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.”

A few more aspects of the ascension are described in Acts: “‘But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1: 8-11). The Apostles were not merely to continue gazing up into the sky, but rather fulfil their commission and spread the gospel into the entire world! Their mission will only find its fulfilment once the Lord returns.

In early Christianity there was not yet a feast to commemorate Christ’s ascension. It was only in the fourth century that people in many regions of the Eastern Church began celebrating the 40th day after Easter as the feast of “Christ’s Ascension”. By the fifth century, this tradition had become as well known in the Western Church as it had been in the Eastern Church.

(© "Our Family", Verlag Bischoff Frankfurt)