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The Story of Jesus



Chapter 29

The Ascension

THE Saviour's work on earth was finished. The time had now come for Him to return to His Heavenly home. He had overcome, and was again to take His place by the side of His Father upon His throne of light and glory.

Jesus chose the Mount of Olives as the place of His ascension. Accompanied by the eleven, He made His way to the mountain. But the disciples did not know that this was to be their last interview with their Master. As they walked, the Saviour gave them His parting instruction. Just before leaving them, He made that precious promise, so dear to every one of His followers:

"Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Matthew 28:20.

They crossed the summit, to the vicinity of Bethany. Here they paused, and the disciples gathered about their Lord. Beams of light seemed to radiate from His countenance as He looked with love upon them. Words of the deepest tenderness were the last which fell upon their ears from the lips of the Saviour.

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With hands outstretched in blessing, He slowly ascended from among them. As He passed upward, the awe-stricken disciples looked with straining eyes for the last glimpse of their ascending Lord. A cloud of glory received Him from their sight. At the same time there floated down to them the sweetest and most joyous music from the angel choir.

While the disciples were still gazing upward, voices addressed them which sounded like richest music. They turned, and saw two angels in the form of men, who spoke to them, saying:

"Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven." Acts 1:11.

These angels belonged to the company that had come to escort the Saviour to His heavenly home. In sympathy and love for those left below, they had stayed to assure them that this separation would not be forever.

When the disciples returned to Jerusalem, the people looked upon them with amazement. After the trial and crucifixion of their Master, it had been thought that they would appear downcast and ashamed. Their enemies expected to see upon their faces an expression of sorrow and defeat. Instead of this, there was only gladness and triumph. Their faces were aglow with a happiness not born of earth. They did not mourn over disappointed hopes, but were full of praise and thanksgiving to God.

With rejoicing they told the wonderful story of Christ's resurrection and His ascension to heaven, and their testimony was received by many.

The disciples no longer had any distrust of the future.

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They knew that the Saviour was in Heaven, and that His sympathies were with them still. They knew that He was pleading before God the merits of His blood. He was showing to the Father His wounded hands and feet, as an evidence of the price He had paid for His redeemed.

They knew that He would come again, with all the holy angels with Him, and they looked for this event with great joy and longing anticipation.

When Jesus passed from the sight of His disciples on the Mount of Olives, He was met by a heavenly host, who, with songs of joy and triumph, escorted Him upward.

At the portals of the city of God an innumerable company of angels await His coming. As Christ approaches the gates, the angels who are escorting Him, in triumphant tones address the company at the portals:

"Lift up your heads, O ye gates;
And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors;
And the King of glory shall come in."
The waiting angels at the gates inquire:
"Who is this King of glory?"
This they say, not because they know not who He is, but
because they desire to hear the answer of exalted praise:
"The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates;
Even lift them up, ye everlasting doors;
And the King of glory shall come in."
Again the waiting angels ask:
"Who is this King of glory?"
The escorting angels reply in melodious strains:
"The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory."
                          Psalm 24:7-10.

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Then the portals of the city of God are opened wide, and the angelic throng sweep through the gates amid a burst of rapturous music.

All the heavenly host are waiting to honor their returned Commander. They wait for Him to take His place upon the throne of the Father.

But He cannot yet receive the coronet of glory and the royal robe. He has a request to present before the Father concerning His chosen ones on the earth. He cannot accept honor till before the heavenly universe His church shall be justified and accepted.

He asks that where He is, there His people may be. If He is to have glory, they must share it with Him. Those who suffer with Him on the earth must reign with Him in His kingdom.

For this Christ pleads for His church. He identifies His interests with theirs, and, with a love and constancy stronger than death, advocates the rights and titles purchased by His blood.

The Father's answer to this appeal goes forth in the proclamation:

"Let all the angels of God worship Him." Hebrews 1:6.

Joyfully the leaders of the heavenly host adore the Redeemer. The innumerable company of angels bow before Him, and the courts of Heaven echo and re-echo with the glad shout:

"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." Revelation 5:12.

Christ's followers are "accepted in the Beloved." In the presence of the heavenly host, the Father has ratified the

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covenant made with Christ, that He will receive repentant and obedient men, and will love them even as He loves His Son. Where the Redeemer is, there the redeemed shall be.

The Son of God has triumphed over the prince of darkness, and conquered death and sin. Heaven rings with voices in lofty strains proclaiming:

"Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." Revelation 5:13.

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