Yesterday morning I was preparing for worship by reading about Jesus’ ascension. It took place near Bethany (Luke 24:50)… on the slope of the Mount of Olives. There Christ raised His hands and blessed his followers and was taken up into heaven (Luke 24:51 and Acts 1:9-11).
Why Bethany? Why did he lead his followers there? Why not ascend to heaven from the Temple… why not from Bethlehem where He was born… or Nazareth where he lived as a young boy… or Galilee where most of his ministry took place?
I wonder if it could be because Bethany was where Lazarus lived. That was also where Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha lived. That was where the miracle took place that brought about his death and eventual resurrection. Click here and here then here to read about it. Jesus knew when he raised Lazarus from the dead a chain of events would begin that would eventually bring about his death.
So what better place for his ascension to take place than in the sight of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary? Them seeing him go to heaven through the clouds… and then hear an angel tell them that He would return the same way he left… must have been a greater reason for celebration than when they saw Lazarus walked out of the tomb!
I have stood on The Mount of Olives. When I went to Israel several years ago that was the one place I wanted to see more than any other. The reason was because I knew that one day Jesus Himself would come back from heaven and his foot would touch down exactly where it left earth. I wanted to stand there and look up into heaven… and I did. When Jesus comes back, He will make everthing right. He will rule and reign forever. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is LORD. That indeed will be a glorious and wonderful day.
Lazarus, Martha, and Mary all eventually died. Their bodies were placed in tombs… Lazarus’ for the second time. But their family didn’t sorrow like the rest of the world that had no hope. They knew death was nothing but a shadow. They knew death was the only way to see Jesus again. For them… and all who believe… death had lost it’s sting.
I look forward to seeing Jesus! I don’t look forward to the process of dying… but I do look forward to the result of what my death will bring about. The end of sorrow… the end of fear… frustration… pain… and tears. I’ll have a new body! I’ll be like Jesus! I’ll have a crown of righteousness! I will reign with Christ! And so will everyone who believes in Christ for their salvation!