Acts 1:1-11; Luke 24:50-53 – When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
In a moment we are going to hear some pretty gruesome details about Judas, and some pretty lengthy arguments about why he needs replacing. But before we get into that, I would like to tackle the question of how Acts 1 relates to the end of Luke’s gospel. It may not be a problem to you, but for some people, scholars mainly, there seems to be a worrying discrepancy between the ascension in Luke which seems to occur immediately after the resurrection, and the ascension in Acts which comes some considerable time after the resurrection – 40 days to be precise.
What’s going on? Did Luke forget the time sequence? Is he talking about two different events? Or is it that Luke is not a newspaper reporter but a poet who knows exactly what he is doing with the facts that he has to hand: in the case of the gospel, seeing the ascension as the fitting climax to the resurrection; and in the book of Acts, seeing the ascension of Jesus as the powerful beginning of the church. Indeed, in the ascension Jesus is not going away so much as he is going up into heaven in order to be the empowerment for the church. After all, what we are called to convey is not just knowledge about the kingdom of God, but an experience of the kingdom of God This can happen only through Pentecostal power.
Prayer: Risen and Exalted Lord, hear our deepest cry for the fire of your Spirit.