Jesus goes to his Father
The time had come for Jesus to go to his Father in Glory. He was back in Jerusalem with his disciples. We know that Jesus had been born in Bethlehem of Judea. He had died at Jerusalem in Judea. He had risen to life again from Joseph’s tomb in Judea. And now from a mountain in Judea, He was about to ascend into the courts of Heaven.
He had finished the work His Father had given Him to do on earth. He had sealed His testimony with his blood on the cross. He had entered the tomb, and from it, He had risen triumphant over death. After the resurrection, He had spent time with His disciples, assuring them that He really was Jesus, and to give them some final instructions.
Remember how upset the disciples had been when Jesus was crucified, and now they had trouble believing that he had risen. But once they had been reassured, their disappointment had been turned onto joy. They didn’t think of Jesus as being defeated and buried in the grave. Now they thought of him as the conqueror of death, a living almighty Saviour.
Jesus chose the Mount of Olives, or Olivet, as the place of His departure into Heaven. He didn’t choose Mount Zion, the place of Kings’ palaces. He didn’t choose Mount Moriah, where the temple stood. No, Mount Moriah was not to receive that honour, for it was the place where He had been mocked and rejected and spit upon and condemned to die. There His words of Love and mercy had fallen upon the hard rock of evil hearts.
It was from Jerusalem that Jesus had often gone to find rest on the Mount of Olives. On his heights, in its groves, in its sheltering home in Bethany, Jesus had found refuge. In the Garden of Gethsemane, at its foot, Jesus had fought His last battle, and had won. Now, from this mountain, he was to rise and to His heavenly home and to His Father.
On the last night before Hs crucifixion, Jesus had said to his disciples: “In My Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you. And I will come back again, and receive you into Myself.” Now the disciples would see that his words would be fulfilled.
Jesus led his disciples out of the city, and together, they walked the well-worn road to Bethany. They walked down into the valley of the Kidron and past the gate of Gethsemane. They then passed the slope of Olivet and over the crest, close to Bethany. At this point, the disciples had no idea that this was their last time with Jesus. They knew that they loved Him more they ever had before. They knew the he was their divine Master. And they knew that they were brothers in heart and soul. There was no strife or torment among them now. It didn’t matter to them anymore who was the greatest. Now, everyone was willing to be the servant, because such was the Master.
Perhaps it was a bright and sunny spring morning as they walked along the road. They were probably having a cheerful conversation with Jesus. The disciples were at peace and gladness filled their hearts. Some of the disciples, knowing that Jesus’ sacrifice as the Lamb of God was completed, turned their minds to the other parts of the prophecies concerning Him. They asked Him, “Master, is this the time when you are going to restore the Kingdom of Israel.”
Well, it was not the time, for Jesus had rejected the Messiah, and God had rejected them. Their disobedience had broken the pledge God had given them. And as a people, they were no longer chosen to be the missionary of Christ. Some of them, like the apostles and disciples, were chosen because they had chosen Him. But the nation, as a whole, was lost.
However, Jesus knew that the disciples were not yet ready to take in all the mystery of this, and so this is how he answered them: “It is not for you to know times and dates which the father has fixed. But you will be given power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be witnesses for Me in Jerusalem, and all over Judea, and Samaria, and to the very ends of the earth.”
As Jesus answered them, He raised His hands above their heads and blessed them. And, drawn by the power of God’s love, He was lifted up from their midst, up into the sky. The disciples followed him with their eyes, straining to catch the last glimpse of their beloved Lord. At last a cloud, a cloud of holy angels received Him out of their sight. And the angels, the angels who had sung to the shepherds at Jesus’ birth, now sounded forth their glorious melody once… ( oups missing words)
While the disciples were still gazing up into the sly, two figures dressed in white raiment stood by them. They were two angels, sent back by Jesus to give them his last word. The angels said: “You men of Galilee, why are you standing there gazing up into heaven? The same Jesus, who has been taken from you up into heaven, will come again, in Just the same way as you have seen him go into heaven.”
What blessed assurance for the disciples. Now they knew that Jesus would come again. They went back to Jerusalem. They weren’t downcast. Instead, they were full of cheer and hope. They returned to the upper room where they had last communed with Jesus. They waited just as Jesus had told them to do. They studied, prayed and sang while they waited for the Holy Spirit to give them power and wisdom in their witnessing for Jesus.
Let’s, for a moment, think about the task set by Jesus, which lay ahead for the disciples. They were to go out into the world and spread the word of Jesus. And that is what Christians have been doing ever since.
When I was little, I liked to play store, and once, I even ran a lemonade stand. I had some boxes piled up, a few paper cups, an old pitcher, and of course, some lemonade. I’m sure many of you have done the same thing. Well, I want to remind you that we’re running a store now, right here. And it’s a big business, too! Our building is this church. And what does it cost, with its fixtures, seats, lights, furnace, carpets, song book, Bibles, piano and organ? What does it cost per year to run it all? It’s quite a sum of money. If I was putting that much of my own money into a business, I would want to know that it was going to do something.
We have many salespeople and clerks- they’re all of you! But what are we selling? Well, for starter, we’re selling religion, friendliness and helpfulness. And who are the customers? They’re the people who live in the community!
Our church has one thing to furnish to the public which everyone in the world wants, and that is to know God. If I were to advertise in the paper, and people knew it to be true, that in this church they could see God, actually see Him, this place would be packed full, more than any bargain counter you ever saw. This church of ours should be showing God to the people of the community. We should be showing God in our lives and in what we say, so people will want Him in their own lives and home. Business people call this salesmanship.
You know that it’s bad for business to have even one poor employee- someone who is grouchy, or lazy, or makes mistakes. It’s just as bad for a church to have that kind of salesman. We have a big investment here, in Character, money, time and energy. Let’s be open for business, God’s business, Jesus’ business, all year long. People have a right to find God, and they should be able to find him on the shelves of our hearts.
Our lives are open for business, God’s business, all the time. Let’s not carry any useless sidelines. Let’s follow the example of Jesus and the disciples. Let each one of us go out into the world and spread the word of Jesus.