Ascension of the Lord (Ages 9-12): Everything Must Be Fulfilled

Luke 24.44-53


We are reaching the end of the forty-nine days of the Easter season and soon will be celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit on the fiftieth day, Pentecost. For now, though, we back up to the fortieth day after the Resurrection, when Jesus ascends into heaven. The Ascension of Jesus is a strange feast. Why must Jesus ascend? Why can he not stay? This year we hear the account of the Ascension from the last chapter of the Gospel of Luke.


Jesus says,

“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”

Everything must be fulfilled, Jesus says. We get the sense that things are not yet complete. There is a fullness required by the Plan of God. It must encompass all.

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures

Everything written about him lies hidden in the scriptures—they did not see it before. The scriptures contain many mysteries. We spend our lives exploring them, pondering them, and Jesus gives us understanding.

Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day

They get it now. They have experienced Jesus Risen from the dead.

and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem.

During his mission on earth, Jesus calls people to repent and be forgiven. People flock to him to experience the mercy and love of God. But Jesus' mission on earth in his human life in the ancient land of Israel lasts about thirty-three years. The fullness of the Plan of God requires that all nations hear the proclamation of the Kingdom of God, that all nations hear the call to repentance and forgiveness of sins. All nations? Does this include people of all times and all places? Jesus, in his human life, in the life that ends in death, is fixed in time and place. Only thirty-three years. Only the ancient land of Israel. The mission is not yet complete. He needs help if all nations must hear the call, if everything must be fulfilled. Who will help?

You are witnesses of these things.

We know that witnesses are people who see something happen and then tell what they have seen. The apostles have not just seen the power of God, they have experienced the Risen Lord. They are the witnesses. Jesus shares the mission of the Kingdom with them. This is called commissioning.


But how are they to share Jesus' mission? He is so much greater than any of them. They must wonder. They must worry.

And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Jesus does not leave them to muddle about on their own. He sends someone upon them so that they may be sent out on the mission of the Kingdom. The word for "send" comes from the Greek word apostelló. From this we get the word "apostle." Jesus sends someone to make them apostles, ones who are sent—ones who are commissioned—for the Kingdom.


Jesus says they will be clothed with power from on high. "Clothed with" is an interesting phrase. It speaks of ceremony. When someone graduates from high school, college, or university, they are clothed with a gown to show their new status. When soldiers are promoted, they are clothed with a badge to show their rank. When a person is ordained a priest, they are clothed with the robes of priesthood. These clothing ceremonies show not only the dignity of these people, but also that they are entrusted with a new mission.


There is a moment, of course, when we are clothed with a garment in a ceremony that shows not only our dignity as a child of God, but also that we are entrusted with a new mission.


Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.

Jesus ascends into heaven to oversee the mission he has begun,

that he has shared with the apostles,

that he entrusts to us.

While he ascends, he blesses them. We notice the blessing does not end. He blesses the mission that continues.

And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

These words from the end of the Gospel of Luke remind us of words of the Angel of the Lord from the beginning.

I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.


These words from the end of the Gospel remind us of the shepherds who

returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.


These words from the end of the Gospel remind us that this is just the beginning.

Like the shepherds, like the apostles, we go out overseen by Christ and we return, blessing and praising God for the dignity of this great mission entrusted to us.

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