Hey, this is pastor Erik once again and I am working on getting prepared to teach on the ascension of Jesus Christ. Over the past few weeks, we took a look at the Crucifixion of Christ and His Resurrection. As we follow the events, this leads us to the ascension of Christ and the last commands that He gives to His disciples before going back to the Father. This lesson is more focused on the disciples than on the event of the ascension.
Last week, we covered the importance of the resurrection of Christ. It is an historical event that is well documented. We focused on the significance of the historical event by looking at Romans 6. The Apostle Paul discusses the significance of the resurrection for all mankind.
Our first passage under consideration is Acts 1. This is the actual event of the ascension. Jesus speaks to His disciples before ascending to the Father. Let’s take a moment to read the passage.
8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.
11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1)
The first thing that Jesus tells to His disciples is that once He ascends to the Father, He (Jesus) will send the Holy Spirit to the disciples. The Holy Spirit will empower them to be witnesses. A witness is someone who experiences something personally and then shares what he saw with others. The disciples had experienced the life and ministry of Jesus and the Holy Spirit was going to empower them to testify of their experience. The testimony would begin in Jerusalem and spread to the ends of the earth. The passage ends with the disciples learning that Jesus will return to the earth one day the exact same way that He left. So, from the time of the coming of the Holy Spirit until the return of Jesus Christ, the disciples were to testify of their experiences with Christ. If you are a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, then these Truths are for you now. From the time that you received the Holy Spirit until the time Jesus returns, you are to testify of your experience with Him. You have been empowered by the Holy Spirit and you have the life and ministry of Christ in the Gospels. Are you following orders?
II. Disciple Makers
Our next passage to consider is Matthew 28. This is the final command given to the disciples in the Gospel of Matthew. This takes place just before the ascension that we ready about in Acts 1. Let’s take a moment to read what Jesus tells His disciples.
16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated.
17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always *, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28)
The first thing that we learn about the disciples is that they worship Jesus Christ. They need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit because some of them are doubtful. They had been well trained and were ready to go. They just needed their marching orders and the power of the Holy Spirit. The disciples are to go in the authority of Jesus Christ. This is the supreme authority that they answered to and were to obey. The well trained disciples were to make more disciples. In order to make disciples, they needed to go to all people all over the earth. Every ethnic group is to be discipled. In order to make disciples, the disciples need to preach the message of Christ to anyone who will listen. For those people who listen and accept, the disciples are to baptize them publically into Jesus Christ. This is a public profession of faith and a testimony to all that you have chosen to be a disciple of Christ. This is only the beginning. Next, the disciples are to teach the Word of God to the new disciples so that they can be trained and then go out and make more disciples. Are you being discipled by a disciple of Christ? Are you seeking to disciple others? This process is to continue until the day you die or until the end of the age.
The final passage to consider is in the Gospel of Mark. In chapter 16, Jesus speaks to His disciples just like in Acts 1 and Matthew 28. This is the final command given before the ascension, before Jesus would ascend to His Father. Let’s take a moment and read the passage.
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
16 “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. (Mark 16)
The disciples are to go into all the world and preach/proclaim the message of the Gospel to all creation. In other words, they are to proclaim the Gospel to anyone who will listen. Out of those who hear the message, some will believe and others will not believe. The ones who believe will experience salvation. This is when they become disciples of Jesus Christ. They dedicate their lives to following Christ the same way that the first disciples did. To manifest their commitment and salvation, they get baptized. This is a public profession of their faith and it is the first command that Jesus gives to them after they accept Him and His message. Have you heard the message of the Gospel? How did you respond to the message of the Gospel? Did you believe? What about baptism, have you been baptized since accepting the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?