The Ascension of Jesus Bible Story Study Guide

How the Ascension Opened the Way for the Holy Spirit

Ascension of Jesus
Joshua Blake / Getty Images

The ascension of Jesus describes Christ’s transition from earth to heaven after his life, ministry, death, and resurrection. The Bible refers to the ascension as a passive action—Jesus was "taken up" into heaven. 

Through the ascension of Jesus, God the Father exalted the Lord to his right hand in heaven. Even more important, at his ascension, Jesus promised his followers that he would soon pour out the Holy Spirit on them and in them. 

Question for Reflection

The ascension of Jesus into heaven made it possible for the Holy Spirit to come and fill His followers. It is an awe-inspiring truth to realize that God himself, in the form of the Holy Spirit, lives inside me as a believer. Am I taking full advantage of this gift to learn more about Jesus and to live a God-pleasing life?

Scripture References

The ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven is recorded in:

The Ascension of Jesus Story Summary

In God's plan of salvation, Jesus Christ was crucified for the sins of mankind, died, and rose from the dead. Following his resurrection, he appeared many times to his disciples.

Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus called his 11 apostles together on the Mount of Olives, outside Jerusalem. Still not completely understanding that Christ's messianic mission had been spiritual and not political, the disciples asked Jesus if he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel. They were frustrated with Roman oppression and may have envisioned an overthrow of Rome. Jesus answered them:

It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:7-8, NIV)
Jesus ascending to heaven
Jesus ascending to heaven, Ascension by John Singleton Copley (1738-1815). Public Domain

Then Jesus was taken up, and a cloud hid him from their sight. As the disciples were watching him ascend, two angels dressed in white robes stood beside them and asked why they were looking into the sky. The angels said:

This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11, NIV)

At that, the disciples walked back to Jerusalem to the upstairs room where they had been staying and held a prayer meeting.

Points of Interest

  • The ascension of Jesus is one of the accepted doctrines of Christianity. The Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed, and Athanasian Creed all confess that Christ ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father.
  • During the ascension of Jesus, a cloud obscured him from sight. In the Bible, a cloud is often the expression of God's power and glory, as in the book of Exodus, when a pillar of cloud guided the Jews in the desert.
  • The Old Testament records two other human ascensions in the lives of Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:1–2).
  • The ascension of Jesus allowed eyewitnesses to see both the resurrected Christ on earth and the victorious, eternal King returning to heaven to rule on his throne at the right hand of God the Father forever. The event is another instance of Jesus Christ bridging the gap between the human and the divine.

Life Lessons

Earlier, Jesus had told the disciples that after he ascended, the Holy Spirit would come down upon them with power. At Pentecost, they received the Holy Spirit like tongues of fire. Today, every born-again believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who gives wisdom and power to live the Christian life.

Pentecost.jpg
Apostles receive the gift of tongues (Acts 2). Public Domain

The command of Jesus to his followers was to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. The gospel first spread to the Jews, then to the Jewish/mixed-race Samaritans, then to the Gentiles. Christians have a responsibility to spread the good news about Jesus to all who have not heard.

Through the ascension, Jesus returned to heaven to become the believer’s advocate and intercessor at the right hand of God the Father (Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1; Hebrews. 7:25). His mission on earth had been accomplished. He took on a human body and will forever remain both fully God and fully man in his glorified state. The finished work of Christ's sacrifice (Hebrews 10:9–18) and his substitutionary atonement is complete.

Jesus is now and forever exalted above all creation, worthy of our worship and obedience (Philippians 2:9-11). The ascension was Jesus' final step in defeating death, making eternal life possible (Hebrews 6:19–20).

The angels warned that someday Jesus will return in his glorified body, the same way he left. But instead of idly watching for the Second Coming, we should be busy with the work Christ assigned us.

Sources

  • Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary (p. 439).
  • The Lexham Bible Dictionary. 
  • Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 123).