Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lots of Questions

This is Ascension Sunday in the Christian calendar. Christ’s ascension occurred 40 days after the resurrection so actually it would have happened on a Friday. The significance of 40 days has to do with the symbolism of numbers in the Bible – 40 (days or years) signifies testing or probation and ends with victory or judgment. Here are the 2 little verses in Luke that pack more than a punch: Luke 24: 50, 51: When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.

Why did he lead them? Who did he lead? Why Bethany? Why did he lift his hands? Why did he leave in the middle of the blessing?
Jesus was always out in front. His disciples had been faithfully following him all around the country for three years. Since he had appeared to them after the crucifixion and resurrection they must have thought they would continue trekking for the rest of their lives. Bethany was on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives – a very significant place. Jesus led them to the same spot where he got on the donkey and triumphantly rode into Jerusalem just a couple of months earlier.
Back when Moses and Aaron were 40 years in the wilderness they instituted the priests’ ministry with sin and guilt offerings (see Leviticus). After slaughtering a goat, an ox, and a ram for the people’s offerings Aaron lifted his hands and blessed the Israelites. Christ’s same action paralleled and fulfilled this act once and for all.
Once and for all. No longer is there any need for sacrifice. The payment has been made.
What do you think the blessing was? And why did he ascend to heaven in the middle of it?