I don’t like cliff hangers and I don’t like stories that leave me feeling depressed and sad at the end. My favorite stories are the ones where everything is tied up with a nice shiny bow. I love happy endings and that is how I feel Luke ends his book, with a very happy ending.
Luke loved order and his purpose in writing about Jesus was to give an orderly account of the things he witnessed and heard regarding Jesus. So Luke decides to finish his book with the beautiful account of the ascension which ends Christ’s ministry on earth. Interestingly his second book (Acts) begins where he left off, namely with the ascension.
We pick up with Jesus hanging out with the remaining 11 disciples. He is blessing them, telling them that the Holy Spirit will come to give them power (Acts 1:8). As he is blessing them he begins to ascend and a cloud carries him away (Lk. 24: 51; Acts 1:9).
There are two things that I learned from studying this passage
1. The Cloud
This cloud that took Jesus away was the Shekina glory, a visible representation of the presence of God seen throughout Scripture.
- It was the same cloud that lead the Israelites by day and it appeared as a pillar of fire at night.
- Moses saw it when he encountered God on Mt. Sinai
- This could filled the temple and was seen over the tabernacle
- Ezekiel saw this visible manifestation of God as it left the east gate
- It surrounded Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration
Now the visible glory of God is with Jesus as he ascends into heaven to take his rightful place at the right hand of God (Lk. 22:69)
2. Christ’s Ministry
While the ascension marks the end of his earthly ministry it also marks the beginning of his heavenly ministry as our High Priest.
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20
The good news just keep coming, doesn’t it! He doesn’t just forgive us of our sins, but also takes the just punishment on himself. He lives a perfect life so he can clothe us in his righteousness. Through his resurrection from the dead he gives us power to live godly lives and strength to overcome sin. He sends the Holy Spirit to teach, convict, comfort and train, and he becomes our High Priest so that while in heaven he continues to minister to us.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
He has not forgotten what it’s like to be tempted, to suffer and to face death. Therefore he identifies with our afflictions. He has perfect sympathy for us, in our stumbling and weakness, in our illnesses and sadness. He knows first hand the feelings of loneliness as well as joy. Because he is our personal High Priest we can approach him at any time and pour out our hearts to him knowing with full confidence that he understands better than we do, and will give us help in our time of temptation, doubt, and suffering.
This study has really been a study in getting to know our Savior better. To see all the things he accomplished for us, to see his passion for the honor of God and his love for the people he created. Luke shows a Prince going through great lengths to redeem and rescue his Bride. He now is preparing a home where he will dwell with her in perfect love, honor and happiness.
I pray that we are left loving him more than when we first started this study.
Looking to Jesus,
Thank you for joining us for the completion of our year long study in the book of Luke! What an amazing year it has been digging into God’s Word with you!
Though we will not have a “formal” enrollment period for our upcoming Thanksgiving and Advent studies, we encourage you to reach out to those around you and invite your friends to join you in our next studies.
Our upcoming Thanksgiving study starts on November 11th and runs for two weeks. We would LOVE for you to join us, again!