May 29, 2014
The Ascension of Our Lord
"Power for Ending & Beginning"
Introduction: The Ascension of our Lord marks the ending as well as a beginning. The earthly ministry of Jesus has been accomplished. Now, as recorded in the closing words of Luke's gospel, Jesus gave final instructions to His disciples. Then He ascended on high to the position of eternal glory that He, the Son of God, had left in order to be our Redeemer. But this ending was truly a beginning. For now, He would bestow power on His faithful people. This night let us consider the power for ending as well as beginning.
1. We end and begin with the powerful Word of our Savior.
A. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Word.
1. The sweep of salvation history covers "everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms" (Luke 24:44). In Christ, all things are completed.
2. Luke's gospel is a record of that fulfillment. It started with the prediction that at just the right time Christ would come into the world. Luke outlines for us how Christ finds His way all the way back to the people of promise in the genealogy of Jesus. Luke records for us Jesus' birth, His trip to the temple to be circumcised and then at the age of twelve.
We have recorded for us his life and ministry, which culminated in Jesus' death and resurrection. During these past forty days we too have been witnesses of His resurrection...Luke has lead us to the conclusion that this Jesus is none other than the very Son of God, the chosen One of the Father.
B. Jesus reveals Himself as the Center of the Word.
1. In our text, we are reminded that Jesus "opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" (v. 45). What this simply means is that without Jesus Christ the Word becomes a mere record of ancient history. But with His revelation which comes through the Word we know Jesus to be the way the truth and the life.
2. Jesus' death and resurrection is the key that opens up the Word. In the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have come to know that He holds for us the key, which opens the gate, which leads to eternal life.
C. This fulfilled, Christ-centered Word must be proclaimed in the world.
1. The proclamation is repentance and forgiveness in Jesus' Holy Name.
2. It is proclaimed to all people and all nations for God desires all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Transition: Scripture's purpose is not a dead end. It is a new beginning, for it has power through this proclamation of Jesus' suffering, death, resurrection and ascension to bring repentance, forgiveness and life to all who believe. This is the new beginnings, which Christ brings to us this day.
2. We end and begin with the power of the Holy Spirit.
A. We are called to be His witnesses.
1. We witness to what the disciples had seen in Christ. In spirit we were there as Jesus suffered, was crucified, died and was buried. We too have seen His resurrected from the dead.
2. He too have witnessed to what we by faith have seen ourselves. The resurrection of Jesus Christ has the power to change lives. Every person who passed by the open tomb of the resurrected Christ had their lives changed. Before the resurrection, they were fearful and doubting. But after the resurrection, their lives were changed as the witnessed Jesus alive from the dead.
B. But wait! The Power will come!
1. On the day of Pentecost the Savior would "clothe" the disciples with the power of the Holy Spirit. Having received power from on high they began in Jerusalem and were His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the rest of the world.
2. We too, begin by the power of the Spirit to witness to Jesus Christ. As we have received the power of the spirit in baptism, we go out into the world witnessing of what Christ has done for us in our lives as well.
Transition: A witness is one who cannot but speak and live the endings and beginnings that God, by grace, has bestowed upon His people. As we begin, we receive the living Christ.
3. We end and begin under Christ's powerful blessing.
A. The ending point of Jesus' earthly ministry was His glorious Ascension.
1. Jesus ascended to heaven to receive all glory and honor from God the Father.
2. He ascended to bless His Christ as its living, present Head as He comes to us, His children through Word and Sacrament.
B. We are blessed with joy.
1. The disciples did not mourn Jesus' leaving; the rejoiced for they knew that He was returning to the Father.
2. This is far different from Memorial Day sadness and helplessness when we remember those who are no more. Christ continues to be alive and with us. We might not see Him but He remains with us. As He has promised, "Lo, I am with you always, even 'till the end of the age" (Matthew 28:28)
3. He who rose is with us this night. He will return at His Second Advent to take us to be where He now lives and rules at the right hand of the Father.
Conclusion: So, filled with joy, the disciples waited and "were continually in the temple" (v. 53). We too await the Lord's return not with sadness but with joy, not in weakness but in His power and strength. The ascension is the ending that brought new beginnings. It is power like that of our baptism. Our earthly lives will end one day but will also begin again with joy our entrance into life eternal.
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