Acts chapter 1

“This Jesus, who was has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” – Vs 11

Jesus has just disappeared into the clouds. After a 40-day reunion with His disciples, some last-minute instructions, and an exit any Hollywood producer would love to capture on film, Jesus leaves His disciples and returns to His Father in heaven.

In verse 11, two angels give the disciples some words of comfort. They tell them that Jesus is going to come back just the way He left, but only in reverse. It’s a not-so-subtle reminder that this is NOT the end. It is the beginning. The beginning of the church age. You see, verse 11 contains an unseen parenthesis. Jesus’ departure and future return bookend the age in which the church, the body of Christ, takes up the Lord’s work. His departure marked the arrival of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the church. That is what the rest of the book of Acts will explain.

In a way, verse 11 is a reminder to the disciples that they have work to do. They are not to be staring up into the sky, sadly recounting what has been or anxiously anticipating what is to come. They are to be busy. And Jesus gave them their marching orders just before His feet left the dirt of the Mount of Olives. You find their job description (and ours) in verse 8:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Verse 11 should be exciting news to any follower of Jesus Christ. Because it tells us that there’s an end to the story. Jesus left, but He is coming back. He is not done yet. His work is not complete yet. The disciples were hopeful that with Jesus’ appearance on the scene just days after His death, it must have been time for Him to set up His earthly kingdom. They even ask Him in verse 6: “Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”

“This is it!” they thought. We just had the timing off a little bit. Now that He has foiled the plans of the Jewish leaders and the Romans, Jesus will be taking over. There was a new sheriff in Jerusalem! But that was not to be the case and Jesus tells them so. No, it was now their turn to shine. The Lord’s ascension was vital to the continuation of His work on earth. His leaving put in motion the Holy Spirit’s coming. No ascension – no Comforter. No Comforter – no power. No power – no church. No church – no chance for the good news to be spread all over the world.

I can get real excited about Jesus coming back. Why? Because our side wins! Just take a look at these passages:

“Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.” – Revelation 1:7

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it {is} called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes {are} a flame of fire, and on His head {are} many diadems; and He has a name written {on Him} which no one knows except Himself. {He is} clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white {and} clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” – Revelation 19:11-16

In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south . . . then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him. – Zechariah 14:4, 5

He is going to come back right to the very spot from which He left! That’s incredible. But until then, He has given each of us a job to do. Matthew records them in His gospel.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

He has gone, but He has not left us. He is with us. He is within us. And He has empowered us to be His ambassadors, spreading the news of His kingdom to every corner of the globe. So how are we doing? How are you doing? Are you making disciples? Are you representing your King well in your little corner of the world? In your office, your home, your neighborhood? Let’s get busy. Let’s make Him famous.

Father, help me to remember that the story is not over. Your Son is coming back some day. And when He does, He is going to set all things right. In the meantime, help me focus on your agenda and not mine. Help me live for your kingdom instead of mine. Help me catch the vision of making disciples. Don’t let me be satisfied with anything else. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org