For a long time, I never really understood the Ascension.
To me, the disciples’ question in Acts 1:6 seemed eminently reasonable. Why did Jesus have to go? Why not just usher in the fullness of the kingdom then and there, and start wrapping the whole thing up? Wouldn’t it be a great asset to our labors in missions and apologetics to have Jesus still around?
As it stands, the Ascension plays right into the skeptic’s darkest doubts about the gospel narrative. How convenient that the supposedly risen Messiah should vanish without showing himself to anyone other than his friends and family!
The Bible, however, stubbornly refuses to agree with my sensibilities. Far from treating the Ascension as a weird stage exit whose main function is to explain why Jesus isn’t around anymore, Scripture speaks of it as a necessary part of God’s plan. Not only is it necessary, but the disciples even refer to it as a primary proof of Jesus’ messianic identity.
Rather than trying to explain away his absence, they tout it with vigor. The Ascension stands on equal footing with the Crucifixion and Resurrection in the earliest declarations of the gospel (Acts 2:33–36; 3:18–21; 5:30–31).
Even Jesus connects the Ascension with his work of dying and rising again. When Mary Magdalene sees him in the garden after his resurrection, he’s not simply strolling about, enjoying the fact that everything has been accomplished. No, he’s a man on a mission, and there is still another: “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father” (Jn. 20:17).
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Source: Christianity Today