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Ascension of the Great High Priest

Ascension of the Great High Priest

Words of Faith 2-28-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Luke 24

    [50] When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. [51] While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. [52] Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. [53] And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.


      We are at the close of our studies in Luke's Gospel.  Luke wrote a sequel to his marvelous account of the life of Jesus called the book of Acts.  While the Gospel related to us the 33 years of Jesus' life and ministry, Acts brings to us the first 33 years of early church history.  To conclude we bridge over into Acts.

       Today we read about the Ascension.  The Ascension of Jesus is the common point and bridge between Luke's Gospel and the book of Acts.  This event is described in the Gospel in a simple statement, but the book of Acts shares with us in more detail.  We have an incredible final event in the Gospel that is the beginning point for the church-- the gathering of believers left behind with the commission to reach the world. 


Acts 1:1-11

    In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach [2] until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. [3] After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. [4] On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. [5] For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

    [6] So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"

    [7] He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. [8] 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."

    [9] After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

    [10] They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. [11] "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? 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."


       The Ascension concludes Jesus' earthly ministry, His journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, and His mission to save the world.   The Ascension opens the Lord's heavenly ministry, His mission of intercession for the world and His mission of bearing witness through the lives of believers.

       So just what is the Ascension all about?  What was God trying to convey to us humans through these events?  What exactly did the research of Luke reveal about the final appearances of Jesus and what do they mean?  In a very practical sense, Luke answers the most basic questions-- Where is Jesus now and what is He doing?  We tend to think of Jesus as hanging around for us.  Scripture teaches that Jesus ascended to a new place and role.   

      The thing we would not readily recognize in these final images from Luke's Gospel is the priestly image in the form of the Ascension.  In Temple worship, it was the duty of the priest to pronounce blessing upon the people.  The priest did so with raised hands.  The clear image is that Jesus has now taken His place as the Great High Priest. 

     Hebrews 4:14-5:10 gives us a description of Jesus' priestly role.

     “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. [15] For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. [16] Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  [5:1] Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. [2] He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. [3] This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. [4] No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. [5] So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father." [6] And he says in another place, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." [7] During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. [8] Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered [9] and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him [10] and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

       Jesus ascended to this place of High Priest.  He is not a priest who is unable to understand the difficult struggles of life.  Rather, He is a priest who was tempted in every way and yet was without sin. 

      We are offered a confident approach to the throne of God because of this High Priest and His work for us.  Here we receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  He is the source of our eternal salvation.

       In his letter to the Philippian church, Paul tells us of how Jesus was exalted through servanthood and how we are to respond. Philippians 2:5-11

    Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, [7] but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. [8] And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross! [9] Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, [10] that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

         As a result of Jesus' obedient death upon the cross, God exalted Jesus to the highest place.  The Pre-existent Christ emptied Himself and took human for in a person named Jesus of Nazareth.  This Jesus was an obedient servant, fully human, and because of His obedience, was exalted or “elevated” above others to the highest position.

         Both Paul and Luke show us that the natural and appropriate response to this ascension is worship.  They worshiped Him. We are called to worship Him.


      Thank You Father for offering Your Son Jesus that He might walk through human struggles and temptations and become the perfect High Priest for me.  Thank You Father for the access You have offered me to Your throne of grace and mercy.  Thank You for the ascended Jesus who is my High Priest and advocate.  In Jesus' name.