The Ascension of Jesus not only closed the chapter of his ministry on earth, it also welcomed in the Kingdom of God.
The work that Jesus accomplished on the cross assures Christians today that the price for sin has been paid. The resurrection provides the promise of eternal life for those who believe. And the ascension not only proves that Jesus is the Son of God, but that he continues to live, seated at the right hand of God, awaiting the day he will return to gather those called by his name. That same assurance was made available to the disciples the day they witnessed Jesus disappear into the clouds.
The disciples had witnessed many things during their walk with Jesus. Hundreds had been healed and many others had been delivered from demons. Lame men walked. Sight was restored to the blind. The wind and waves obeyed the voice of Jesus, and at his voice, the dead came back to life. The disciples had also experienced the miracle of the resurrection, which offered the fulfillment of prophecy. They had everything they needed to believe, and yet the ascension added to their faith. This last miracle of Jesus on earth was further proof that he was indeed the Messiah, the Son of God.
Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus and his disciples made their way out of the city of Jerusalem. He had spent much of his time during his last days on earth appearing to many people who witnessed his crucifixion, offering them a renewed faith and hope. He opened the eyes of the disciples' understanding so that they could comprehend the Scriptures. He expounded the Scriptures, revealing to the disciples all that was written about him. Now the end of his earthly journey had arrived, and Jesus had one last thing to show them.
The town of Bethany sat near Jerusalem, about two miles away. It was where Lazarus lived, who was one of Jesus' closest friends. The citizens of Bethany were there when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. It was the town where Jesus' disciples found the colt that Jesus rode on during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It was also where Mary, the sister of Lazarus, had anointed Jesus'Â™ feet with expensive oil. Many significant events took place in Bethany, making it a haven of rest for Jesus during his ministry. It had been the closest place to home for him; a town where he had been both accepted and ministered to. Perhaps that is why Jesus chose to return there one last time, in preparation for returning to his eternal home, heaven.
When Jesus and his disciples arrived in Bethany, they gathered at the Mount of Olives. He instructed them to return to Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit, and the power that would come upon them. Knowing that he had accomplished everything he had set out to do, Jesus spread his hands and blessed the men who had followed him. As he blessed them, the disciples watched with amazement as Jesus was taken up into heaven. While they continued to watch in awe, two men dressed in white suddenly stood among them. These angels assured the disciples that the Jesus who ascended into heaven was the same Jesus who would return to rule for all eternity with peace and authority.