Devotion 222 – Ascension Day (Evening)

Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus, give us a childlike faith and show us Your glory. Amen.

Text: Acts 1:1–11

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach. until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Devotion

When Christ took up His life again from death, His body was transfigured, and so He walked on earth for 40 days. He was glorified, and was therefore invisible. But He could show Himself when He wanted, and could suddenly disappear before their eyes. But He was still on earth and had not yet received His ruling power over all things. He had taken two steps to the height of exaltation, but before He went further, He had to reveal Himself many times to the disciples, instruct them about God’s kingdom, and prepare them for the Spirit. Today He takes the next step. Now He assumes His dominion, receives all power in heaven and on earth to administer to us the salvation won and thereby to lead us to glory. Christ “is seated at the right hand of the Father.” This means that He possesses with the Father all power and glory. He who is God and Man in one Person and who died for the sins of the world reigns continually over all things. Daniel “was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Dan 7:13-14). Christ’s sitting at the Father’s right hand is His omnipresent omnipotence and dominion as the Savior of the world. – All the same, we must also affirm that God’s dwelling in heaven, exalted above all creation, is a real place, but in an eternal and heavenly sense, and not according to our earthly concepts about location.

In His work as the ascended Savior He sends us the Spirit who establishes God’s kingdom among us and thereby gathers the Lord’s Church on earth. Not only the Eleven were to receive the Holy Spirit, but all who would believe by their word. He has not promised all of us gifts of miracles, for they are not necessary for salvation. But the light and power of the Spirit for faith and regeneration He has promised to everyone who will obey the truth (Rom 2:8; Gal 3:1; Gal 5:7; 1Pe 1:22). – Then, when all these are gathered in, He shall come again, and then the kingdom of glory, which in a way the disciples longed for and asked about, shall break forth in its celestial splendor, more beautiful and more blessed than anyone can imagine. We also long for it. May the Lord come soon and perfect His kingdom! But let us meanwhile believe without seeing and patiently go the way of the cross under the blessed protection of our exalted Lord.

Do you know the Spirit’s regenerating power in your heart? Are your eyes directed upward where the Bridegroom of the soul lives, and are you waiting for His return with longing?

Closing Prayer

Draw us to Yourself, Lord Jesus. Take our heart and fill it with Your love. We pray You fervently, give us Your Holy Spirit and let us stand in the multitude of Your witnesses. Amen.

Hymn

Praise to the Head exalted
Who sits at God’s right hand today
Adored by voice exultant
By all in heav’n both night and day!
For Christ is throned in splendor
Who shares our flesh and blood,
We now rejoice in wonder
And nevermore are sad;
The King of kings forever
Is Christ, our Brother dear;
With Him we’ll reign forever
And crowns of glory wear.

All now with praise do magnify
The Lord of greatest, highest pow’r,
Who did ascend to heaven high
His flock to tend at ev’ry hour!
Bow down, the worth declaring,
His goodness wondrous, grand;
For us He is preparing
A place in heaven’s land!
O then what joy exceeding,
Lord Jesus, You to see;
Our life to heav’n is leading,
O when, Lord, shall it be?

Rist: Slaar sammen alle Hænder L 413:4-5 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Nun lob, mein Seel (ELH 456 or LHy 7); alternate hymn: Hail the day that sees Him rise ELH 388:1-2

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