Ascension - Going Home to His Father

 

"While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven" (Luke 24:51).


The Ascension is mentioned in Mark and Luke, but omitted from Matthew and John. According to the book of Acts, a continuation of Luke, 40 days after his resurrection, Jesus appeared before his disciples and led them "out to the vicinity of Bethany" (Luke 24:50), to the "hill called the Mount of Olives" (Acts 1:12). There, he said to them:


"...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" (Acts 1:8).


After he blessed them, "he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. '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.' Then they returned to Jerusalem..." (Acts 1:9-12)


Chapel of the Ascension


Christian tradition identifies a site on the summit of the Mount of Olives, just south of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and Convent of the Pater Noster (Latin, meaning "Our Father;" said to be the place where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord's Prayer), with the place Jesus ascended to heaven. This supernatural event, which marked the conclusion to Jesus' life on earth, is commemorated by a small domed Chapel of the Ascension (below left), overlooking Jerusalem's Old City and the Temple Mount/Harem es-Sharif to the west.

(Below right) Stone under the dome said to a contain a footprint left by Jesus as he ascended to heaven. Pilgrims kiss it, pour wine into it and drink it. Over the years, some stone chips have undoubtedly been taken as mementos.

Originally erected in the 4th century AD by Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, as part of the vast Eleona Church and Monastery complex, the octagonal shrine has undergone many facelifts. Destroyed by the Persians in 614 AD, it was eventually reconstructed in its present form by Crusaders. The site was ultimately acquired by two emissaries of Saladin in the year 1198 and since then it has remained in the possession of Muslims who consider Jesus to be one of the great prophets. The Crusader building was converted to a mosque but it was never used by Muslims since the overwhelming majority of visitors were Christian. Two years later Saladin ordered the construction of a second mosque next door as a gesture of compromise and goodwill.


Some final words upon completion of a journey...


This completes your journey through the sites connected to the life and ministry of Jesus. I leave you with this statement about Jesus, written by 1st century AD Jewish historian Flavius Josephus:


"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day" (Antiquities of the Jews, book 18, chapter 3:3).


Jesus' Life Home