Sermon preached at Poole High School for Poole Christian Fellowship on 12 June 2016
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After seven years we have come to the end of our series on Luke. Jesus has been born in miraculous circumstances, has lived the perfect life, has been the perfect sin offering, has risen from the dead and has commissioned his disciples. So, the story is over. Or is it?
Like a skilful film director, Luke sets us up for the sequel, the next phase of human existence, the church age.
Luke 24 v 49-53:
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
What Jesus Did
He led them – Jesus leads us as a shepherd leads his sheep. Here he leads them to a place they do not want to go. They are going to a place where they would take their leave of Him, never to meet again until they went to heaven to join him. Often God’s leading is not as we would choose. Are we prepared to be led by God?
He Blessed them – Jesus, as Aaron had before, imparted God’s blessing to his people as the ultimate High Priest. He is the one who from that day onwards brings people over the world to God
He left them– it is not easy to understand the mechanics of what happened here, so that is best left alone. But what we need to understand is that, just as Jesus had promised at the last supper, His departure was necessary for the gift of the Holy Spirit to arrive. Sometimes the ways of God are hard to understand If ever there was a person who seemed indispensable it was Jesus. Yet – the church exploded after he had gone.
What the Disciples Did
They worshipped – worship is the attitude of a heart surrendered to Jesus. What Luke is telling us is that the disciples had acknowledged Jesus as God, and that their hearts were fully surrendered to him. That is worship, for them and for us. It has its outworking in the way in which we honour Jesus, in the way in which we obey him in every area of our lives, and of course, in what we do when we gather together in his name and express together our love and surrender to Him
They Returned – Jesus sent them back to where they had come from to serve him. In the same way Jesus sends us back to our homes, our offices and our families to serve him and to witness to him.
They stayed – the place where they found their home was the temple, and it was a place of praise for them. In the same way, our home is amongst God’s people, God’s temple, praising and worshipping him.
What We Must Do
The lesson today is that we need to live in the light of the ascension of Jesus into heaven.
Jesus is in Heaven – Jesus is no longer the man limited by space and time on planet earth. He occupies as place at the right hand of the Father where he been given all authority in heaven and on earth
Jesus is our Advocate – we have one who pleads constantly for us day by day
Jesus pours out His Spirit – as we saw earlier, it was necessary for Jesus to depart to pour out the Spirit.
Jesus is returning – we now live in the light of the imminent return of Jesus
Jesus has a job for us to do – because his return is a day of glory to all who are believers, we know work with Jesus to get the word of salvation out to all humanity.
So, the scene is set for the next stage of the human story, the age of the church in which the Holy Spirit would be given to all who believe in Jesus. But that’s another story.