Have you heard about the Michigan man who for 30 years used a 22-pound rock as a doorstop. He later found out that it was actually a meteorite that was worth $100,000.
Or maybe you have heard of the grandfather who bought an interesting chess piece 55 years ago for $6 and eventually passed it down to his family. It turned out to be a chess piece made of walrus ivory from a medieval chess set, found on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland back in 1831. The piece is now said to be worth $1.2 million.
Or maybe you can relate better to the woman in Compiegne, France, who had her belongings appraised as she was preparing to sell her house. The auctioneer noticed a painting hanging over her stove in the kitchen. It turned out to be a lost painting from the 13th century Florentine artist Cimabue. The masterpiece — known as "Christ Mocked" — is part of a set of paintings that depict Jesus' crucifixion. The painting was put up for auction and sold for $26.8 million.
All of these stories have one thing in common. Each person had something they had grown very familiar with but were oblivious to the fact of its great value.
For many Christians the Ascension of Christ falls into that same category. We are familiar with how Jesus returned to heaven after being crucified and being raised from the dead, but have little understanding of its true value in the story of the Bible and how it affects our own spiritual lives. The goal of this sermon today is for us to have a better understanding of what happened at the Ascension and how valuable that is to us all as we seek to walk with Christ.
Jesus was raised from the dead on Easter morning during the Jewish Passover. Acts 1 then tells us how Jesus presented Himself to His disciples over a period of forty days and gave them many convincing proofs that He was alive. In His final words, Jesus then told them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the Holy Spirit, who would come. A few moments later Jesus ascended to heaven.
Because of this 40 day period, we know that the Ascension actually took place on a Thursday. 10 days later was the Jewish festival that was celebrated on Pentecost (Greek for Fiftieth) which was named so because it was 50 days after Passover.
It began with Easter, then 40 days with the disciples, then the Ascension, then 10 days waiting and praying in Jerusalem, then Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. That is the timeline we have been walking through during this series and today we will focus on the Ascension.
Forty days after Jesus’ resurrection he and his disciples gathered on the Mt. of Olives. It was there, while speaking His final words that Jesus, rose into the clouds, returning to heaven. Acts 1:10-11 described it with Jesus’ words.
“8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
The ascension is significant because it marked the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry. At the same time, it marked the return to His heavenly glory and the end to His human limitations. Jesus would now be able to serve as our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16), interceding for us as He sits at the right hand of the Father (Matthew 26:64; Luke 22:69; Acts 7:55; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 12:2; Revelation 5:7). The Ascension also gives us a clear description of what to expect when Jesus returns.
Luke 24:50-53 gives us a similar account of the Ascension. “50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.”
Some might be tempted to mourn Jesus’ ascension because He would no longer be with them, but we see the disciples did the opposite, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy. To some it was a loss to no longer have Jesus walking by their side, but as we look at scripture we see that there were various reasons to celebrate when Jesus ascended to heaven.
First of all, we read this in John 14:2–3, “2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Jesus was returning to heaven to “prepare a place” for them. He then promised that He would return. Yes, He was going, but it was necessary to prepare a place so that He could return and take them to their eternal home.
It might be similar to the excitement and the sense of anticipation of a betrothed Jewish bride. In Jesus’ day the families would come together and a marriage agreement would be made. The promised groom would then return to the home of His Father to prepare a place for he and his future bride. At this time the bride would not have been saddened that her fiancee was walking away. She would have been overjoyed by the fact that he was going to prepare a place for them and that he would return when it was time to begin their married life together. That is one reason for joy at the Ascension. Jesus had left them, but it was so that He could prepare a place for them and return when all was ready.
Another benefit of Jesus’ departure is stated clearly in Jesus’ words in John 16:7, “7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”
Jesus had to return to heaven so He could send the Spirit to us. Jesus had walked beside His disciples, but now His Spirit would dwell within them.
The Holy Spirit would be their mentor, their tutor, their helper and their counselor who would reveal the truths of God and Christ as they sought to live the Christian life. The Spirit would lead them as they became the leaders of the early church and were used of God to lay the foundations for His kingdom work until Christ would return. Through the Spirit Christ would dwell in them and they would abide in Christ. The Holy Spirit would bear witness about Jesus through the Apostles.
The Holy Spirit would be their hope and their strength. As one reads in Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
The advancement of God’s Kingdom in our lives and in our world would depend on the coming of the Holy Spirit, but Jesus had to go so the Spirit could come.
It was this coming of the Spirit in Acts 2 at Pentecost that proved to the disciples that Jesus had reached His ultimate destination and taken His place at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
One of the greatest blessings of Christ’s ascension is that He is now sitting at the right hand of the Father. We see this in various passages throughout the New Testament.
Colossians 3:1 -“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
Ephesians 1:20 - “He worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.”
Hebrews 1:3 - “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
1 Peter 3:22 - “He who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.”
This idea of Jesus now being at the Right Hand of God is a significant truth in scripture. When one who is in power, such as a king, put another at his right hand it was an act of giving him equal power and authority. This is what the Apostle Paul was referring to in Ephesians 1:19-20. Out of the Father’s mighty strength He has “seated Him at His right hand in the heavenlies, far above all principality and authority and power and dominion, and every name being named, not only in this world, but also in the coming age." That means that Jesus has ultimate dominion not only in the present, but all authority in the unknown future.
It is not just that Jesus has now be given all power and authority, He also is now our High Priest who speaks on our behalf to the Father (Hebrews 4:15). Romans 8:34 declares that Jesus now sits at the Father’s side interceding for us. 1 John 2:1 describes that, “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 Timothy 2:5 calls Jesus our “mediator between God and man.” Hebrews 7:25 continues this same idea in these words, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
As our advocate Christ pleads our case to God, the Holy Judge. For the Jews this idea of advocate was the opposite of the word accuser. Whether we are accused by Satan, others, or even our own conscience Christ intercedes on our behalf.
When our sin comes before a holy God we deserve nothing more than eternal condemnation. All of our sinful desires, thoughts, our words, our actions come before our God who sees all things. What should a holy God do with a sinful people like us? Our need is utterly desperate and hopeless. It is in that moment that Jesus speaks and comes to our defense. Yes, we have sinned. Yes, we are guilty. Yes, the wages of sin is death. But at the cross Christ took upon Himself the sinfulness of man, dying in our place so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Even when the sins of the saints come before God, Jesus declares us righteous because we are in Christ. His blood has been shed for the forgiveness of our sins. In the midst of our guilt we are counted holy.
Christ is our perfect High Priest who knows the demands of the laws of God but satisfied them with His own life and death on the cross. As our repentant hearts combine with the sacrifice of Christ, He speaks as our Advocate. As we read in Hebrews 9:24, Christ has entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. He associates Himself with us, declaring to the Father that we are His.
Christ’s concern for us is eternal. It did not just stop with the cross, resurrection and ascension. He forever will stand with us as Savior and Defender. All else was done so that He could now sit at the Father’s right hand and claim us as His.
As we consider the Ascension and how it impacts our lives may we remember these meaningful truths.
Live with a joyful expectation of Christ’s return. Regardless of world events and life situations we know how the story ends. When the time is finished Christ will return to take with Him all who are His. May this give us a joyful sense of expectation and a peace of heart knowing that God is in control. May it also help us live for eternity instead of living for the world.
We now have full access to the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ ascension resulted in the coming of the Holy Spirit. As believers may we seek to walk in step with the Spirit as He guides us into greater faith and obedience in Christ. May we submit to His leading, getting out of His way that He might be fully manifest Himself in our lives.
Jesus, our advocate, now sits at the Right Hand of the Father. Whether we are struggling with personal sin or with living the Christian life in public, in Christ we now have all the power that we need for life and godliness. Even when Satan or our own conscience long to condemn and bring accusation against us, Jesus, our Advocate speaks the truths of the Gospel over us and reminds the Father that we are in Him. Shame and guilt no longer hang over us.
The following story has been recounted from the time of the Civil War here in the United States.
There was a soldier in the Union army, a young man who had lost his older brother and his father in the war. He went to Washington, D.C., to see President Lincoln to ask for an exemption from military service so he could go back and help his sister and mother with the spring planting on the farm. When he arrived in Washington, after having received a furlough from the military to go and plead his case, he went to the White House, approached the doors, and asked to see the president.
However, he was told, ‘You can’t see the president! Don’t you know there’s a war on? The president’s a very busy man. Now go away, son! Get back out there and fight the Rebs like you’re supposed to.’ So he left, very disheartened, and was sitting on a little park bench not far from the White House when a little boy came up to him.
The lad said, ‘Soldier, you look unhappy. What’s wrong?’ The soldier looked at this young boy and began to spill his heart out to this young lad about his situation, about his father and his brother having died in the war, and how he was the only male left in the family and was needed desperately back at the farm for the Spring planting.
The little boy took the soldier by the hand and led him around to the back of the White House. They went through the back door, past the guards, past all the generals and the high-ranking government officials until they got to the president’s office itself. The little boy didn’t even knock on the door but just opened it and walked in. There was President Lincoln with his secretary of state, looking over battle plans on the desk. President Lincoln looked up and said, ‘What can I do for you, Todd?’ And Todd said, ‘Daddy, this soldier needs to talk to you.’ And right then and there the soldier had a chance to plead his case to President Lincoln, and he was exempted from military service due to the hardship he was under.
Our situation is even better than this. We are not with the son of a human President, we are with the Son of God. He is ours and we are His. Because of this we have been given access to God and found favor with Him. We can now, “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Praise God that Jesus Christ now sits at the Father’s right hand interceding on our behalf and His Spirit dwells within us to draw us near and to guide us into all holiness.
Because of the Ascension, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have now taken their rightful places. This week may we join with the disciples in their joy of the Ascension and their longing for Christ’s return.
 Meteorite Worth $100,000 Used As Door Stop for 30 Years | Time, Viewed May 20, 2023
 https://www.insider.com/what-is-my-stuff-worth-2018-3#this-woman-didnt-realize-that-the-plate-she-had-hanging-over-her-oven-was-designed-by-picasso-10 , viewed May 20, 2023
 James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, pp. 72-73, https://thepastorsworkshop.com/sermon-illustrations-on-being-an-advocate/, viewed May 20, 2023