By Pastor Travis Lauterbach
Jesus rose victoriously from the dead early Easter morning. Then He began a series of appearances as He continued teaching His followers
St. Paul lists many of these appearances in 1 Corinthians 15. Among those who saw Jesus were Peter and the rest of the apostles, more than 500 at once, and James. The Gospels say that some of the women who followed Jesus, most notably Mary Magdalene, were the first witnesses of the resurrection. Jesus also appeared to two men on their way to Emmaus and seven of His disciples while they fished.
These various events happened throughout 40 days after Jesus’ resurrection.
Then Jesus gave them a further promise and instruction, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
After Jesus spoke, He was lifted up before their eyes. The very last thing they saw was a cloud, an Old Testament symbol of God’s presence, taking Him from their sight.
They stood there gazing, like watching a rocket soar into the sky. But two angels appeared to them and promised that Jesus will return in the same way He ascended.
The Ascension occurred for important and necessary reasons.
First, He ascended to God’s right hand, which isn’t so much a place as it is a position of power and authority.
Your “right hand man” is the one who acts decisively on your behalf. So Jesus acts with authority in this world, especially through His Gospel, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper by which He gives and strengthens the gift of faith.
Secondly, Jesus does so through the Holy Spirit who is sent by both the Father and the Son.
The Holy Spirit led the apostles into all truth, gave them the words to say, and works through those words, even today, to bring more into saving faith in Jesus Christ for the free forgiveness of sins and salvation.