The text for this lesson is Acts 1:1–11; Luke 24:44–53
- Jesus, our risen Savior, ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us there with Him.
- Law: I sin when I think that Jesus has left me alone when He ascended. It is a sin to want to keep Jesus physically present with me here on earth. Like the disciples, I am tempted to want Jesus to be an earthly ruler and restore His kingdom on earth.
- Gospel: Jesus ascended for me to prepare an eternal home, yet He promises to be with me always. Jesus, my ascended Lord, gave me His body and blood in the Lord’s Supper and His Word to sustain me until I join Him in heaven. Jesus’ death and resurrection restores me to Himself; His ascension promises that He will come again to bring me to His heavenly kingdom.
- Since about the fifth century, the Church has kept a paschal candle lit during worship from Easter through Ascension Day. On Ascension Day, which occurs forty days after Easter (Acts 1:3), the paschal candle is extinguished after the reading of the Gospel. This symbolizes Jesus’ removal from the sight of His disciples. We now live by faith, not by sight. However, the other candles in the church have been lit from the paschal candle, and they continue to burn. In Matthew 5:14, Jesus tells His disciples, “You are the light of the world,” and in Psalm 119:105, we hear that God’s Word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. In light of these verses, what might the candles that remain lit after receiving light from the paschal candle symbolize?
- Luke begins Acts by saying, “In the first book . . . I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up, after He had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen” (Acts 1:1–2). By saying that Jesus “began to do and teach” things in Luke, it suggests that Jesus will personally continue to do and teach. What do this passage and Acts 1:8 tell us about how Jesus’ “doing and teaching” will continue even after His ascension? How is this reminiscent of Luke 10:16?
- This week we celebrate Jesus’ ascension into heaven. Where is heaven? What insights do Philippians 2:9–11 and Ephesians 4:8–10 give us concerning Christ’s ascension and exaltation?
- In Acts 1:4–5, Jesus tells the apostles to wait for the promised Holy Spirit to come, “for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” We recall that John’s was “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3). Most likely all of Jesus’ apostles had been baptized by John. Yet Jesus promised to baptize them with the Holy Spirit, which was fulfilled when the Spirit descended on the apostles on Pentecost. Some people argue that water Baptism does not give the Holy Spirit, but that there is a separate Baptism of the Holy Spirit. How do John 3:5; Ephesians 4:5; and Acts 2:38 refute the idea that the Lord ordained more than one kind of Baptism for the Church?
- On the road to Emmaus, two of Jesus’ disciples were lamenting His death and expressing their disappointment, saying, “we had hoped that [Jesus] was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). In other words, they were hoping that Jesus would be a powerful earthly Messiah who would restore Israel to greatness. How does the question from the apostles in Acts 1:6 demonstrate that they had not yet gotten it? What do John 18:33–38 and 19:1–3, 18–19 teach about Jesus’ kingdom? When would the apostles finally get it? How does Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:29–36 demonstrate this?
- Acts 1:9 says that Jesus “was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.” Poof! Jesus was gone. Well, not really. In fact, the presence of the cloud was a sign that Jesus was not really leaving but just changing His mode of presence with the apostles. According to Exodus 13:21–22 and 14:24–25, what was the significance of the cloud over Israel during the Exodus? According to Exodus 40:34–38, where did the cloud reside with Israel? What might the cloud at the ascension have to do with that Old Testament cloud?
- Acts 1:11 states, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.” What exciting thing for believers does Luke 21:25–28 tell us about Jesus’ return? What event does 2 Corinthians 5:10 say will occur when Jesus returns? According to Mark 13:32, when should we expect Jesus’ return to happen? What should be the Christian’s constant expectation and prayer, according to Revelation 22:20?
- The disciples’ separation from Jesus was not a sad one. “They worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God” (Luke 24:52–53). Based on Matthew 28:20, why were they so joyful? How does the celebration continue in Acts 2:42? What pattern did their worship set for the Church of all ages?
- Sometimes people call God the man upstairs. Since the ascension, perhaps that’s not such a bad title for Jesus. However, that expression comes from the days when the office of the boss was located above the factory floor. His office had windows, and he could observe what everyone was doing without their knowledge. That’s actually intimidating and scary, but according to Hebrews 4:13, what is the nature of God’s knowledge of our lives? Is that passage Law or Gospel? What do 1 Timothy 2:5–6 and Romans 8:33–34 tell us about the man upstairs? Are those passages Law or Gospel?
- What words in John 14:1–3 show us that to be in heaven is to be where Jesus is? Why is the passage so frequently used as the text for funeral sermons?