After saying this, He was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see Him. As they strained to see Him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday He will return from heaven in the same way you saw Him go!” Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile.Acts 1:9-12
Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting His hands to heaven, He blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up to heaven. So they worshiped Him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God.Luke 24:50-53
When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them,He was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honour at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.Mark 16:19-20
We dealt with this in Gem 1327. But I drew your attention to it from the point of view of the close of the Gospel. Now we will look at it as a part of the opening of Luke’s second book. It is fascinating how Luke uses it to close one book and open another. We are living in the period of time in history between the visitations of the Messiah. The disciples have asked when will the consummation of the Kingdom take place? In Mark’s account above, he effectively summarises the Book of Acts in one line. “And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.” We have been told in Matthew 24:14 that this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world (to the ends of the earth) as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come. Luke has captured for us the first part of the process as it happened, for us to see how this worked out for the earlier disciples. Now the task is left for us to do. We live in the period of history when the Jewish clock is stopped and the Gentile clock is running. (See Gems 1184, 1185.) This period we live in is “just a little while”. Jesus discussion with the disciples concerning His going and then His coming again, is described as “a little while”. He is describing the period between His Ascension and His Coming Again as a brief time. In God’s terms, a couple of days because with Him a day is like a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8). All this time in-between is the time when this gospel of the Kingdom will go out to all nations. Ponder that one. Did you know you can be involved in the timing of when Jesus comes back? Stop asking when it will happen and start making it happen sooner. Do you think hastening the day of the Lord’s return might have something to do with Matt 24:14?
The departure and the return of Jesus is an amazing example of repetition across book boundaries, from the close of the first volume to the opening of the second volume with some time between. Ah, this is meant to be a sequel. “Luke” is now entering its second series.“24” (the TV series) will be coming back in a new series, wait for it. Then when we begin the new series we will start with, “Previously in 24, The Chapter” these things happened. Only the second time, Luke gives us a fuller summary. We get some editor’s cuts included the next time. Luke gives us a fuller account in the second book. In the close of his first book, Luke leaves us with the essence of the ascension and the final closure related to their worshipful response. Now there is a hiatus. We will have to wait and see what happens when the new series comes to our screens. Not only is there clear analogies between Luke’s two books but he is putting together the similarity of Jesus’ departure and His return. In Gem 1327 I left you with the question: Why do the angels say in the beginning of Acts, “Jesus will come back again in the same way you saw Him go.”What does that mean? What same way? What will be the same? Now is the time to answer those questions. What did they mean by “Jesus will come back in the same way you saw Him go”? What are the points of similarity – in the same way? Remember too, the questions the disciples asked about where and when relating to the return of Christ.
“In the same way” relates in one sense to where it will happen. “On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south” (Zech 14:4). Jesus will return to the very place He left from – Mount Moriah, the Mount of Olives. This verse is found in a passage related to the coming day of the Lord, when all the nations will be gathered to Jerusalem to fight against it and when the Lord my God will come with all His holy ones with him. (// 1 Thess 4:14, 16–17). Read the following verses and note the similarity of the wording. Note too, Luke 21:27 “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” And Rev 1:7 “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all peoples on earth will mourn because of him.” There are numbers of times Jesus will appear in the clouds, at His 2nd Coming and when He comes in Judgment. It will be very public. As the angels told the disciples who watched Him go, He will come again in just the same way. He will return to the Mount of Olives, Mt Moriah where Abraham took Isaac to sacrifice him — mmm that is interesting. But also He will return in the same manner in which He left, ascending and descending to and from the clouds. In this case, it is on the same spot and in the same way.
How is it that every eye will see Him? Much has been said and debated about this. I am not about to lay out all the alternatives that people have suggested. But suffice to say it will be a noticeable happening that all will see. Jesus will split the skies and the Mount of Olives when He descends on it.The text literally tells usthis same Jesus. There will be no doubting who He is. More powerful than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “I am back”, Jesus too will say, “I am back, just like I said I would”. In this day and age of a global village and international media connections which roam the planet looking for news and broadcasting it instantaneously, I have no problem believing that every eye will see the return of the LORD and will know instantly who He is. The endless television re-runs on the news will make sure of that. But I also believe there is a part inside every one of us – believer and non-believer alike, which will witness to the fact that the LORD HIMSELF has come again in just the way He said He would. It will be undeniable.
Oh, hasten the day Lord. And the Lord says to me, “You hasten the day Ian.” I pass the same challenge on to you, my reader.
Are you going to restore the Kingdom of Israel? You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth.Acts 1:6-8
This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world (to the ends of the earth) as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come.Matthew 24:14
On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west . . .Zechariah 14:4
He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him.Revelation 1:7
As you look forward to the day of God and earnestly wait for it’s appearing, you should try to make it come sooner.2 Peter 3:12