Wednesday Preverb – 08May2024


This coming Sunday will be the seventh Sunday of Easter (also known as Ascension Sunday).  It’s a day when many Christians remember/celebrate the Ascension of the Lord, when Jesus returned to the Father’s side.

The theme for the coming week, starting Sunday, is The Blessing of Christ’s Ascension.

The selected passages, for tonight’s study, are  Luke 24:44-53 (the keynote passage), Acts 1:1-11 and Ephesians 1:15-23 .   



Luke 24:44-53

44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets  and the Psalms concerning Me.”  45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.  

46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, [a]and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things.  49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city [b]of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”  

50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy53 and were continually in the temple [c]praising and blessing God. [d]Amen.    


Acts 1:1-11

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which [a] He was taken up, after He, through the Holy Spirit. had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many [b]infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.   

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father (Acts 2:37-39), “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Mk.1:8; 1 Cor.12:12-13; Rom.6:1-4) not many days from now.” (Acts 2:1-4)  Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”  And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.  But you shall receive power (1 Cor.12:7-12) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be [c] witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”   

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”   


Ephesians 1:15-23

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:  17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your [a]understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power  20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him  at His right hand in the heavenly  places,  21 far above all principality [b] and [c]power and [d]might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.  

22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.   




To the Very End

Luke 24:44-53  NIV


Books are treasures.  They can open our mind to new realities, help us experience life in another place and time, teach us things, and fill us with wonder.  There are some people who like to skip to the end of a book.  Many would consider such behavior a breach of some kind of cosmic rule.  However, there is no single way to enjoy a book.  Just like the people who eat dessert first, ending-readers find delayed gratification overrated.  Some of those who skip to the end may do so to see if the book is worth reading.  Others, caught up in the suspense or drama of a good tale, may read the ending to see if things end well for the main characters.  For whatever reason, ending-readers have a hard time enjoying a book unless they know how it ends.

If we were to skip to the end of the account of Jesus’ earthly ministry, what would the ending reveal about his story?  Would we find something in the ending of the story that makes Jesus’ story one worth telling?  At the conclusion of Jesus’ embodied time on earth, would we find evidence that things end well for him?  Or, for humanity?  Let us take a look at Luke 24:44-53 for answers to these questions:


He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”  When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.  Then they worshiped him    and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.  (Luke 24:44-53 NIV)

This week, we celebrate the ascension of our Lord, which comes at the end of the Easter season.  In the Easter season, we celebrated the victory of Christ over sin and death for our behalf and the new life his followers have in him.  In the ascension, we are assured that Christ’s victory and our redemption are permanent because Jesus, in a human body, rose to heaven with all power.   Jesus is still one of us and he is GodThere is none who can undo what he did or disconnect us from the destiny we share with Christ.  Furthermore, Jesus took steps to ensure that his earthly ministry — the work to reveal the present reality of the kingdom and invite people to follow Christ — continued through his disciplesThere are three things Jesus did for his disciples before he left earth to sit at the Father’s side:  he equipped, sent, and blessed them.  In this activity of Jesus, ending-readers will find some of the most important themes of Christ’s story.



The equipping of the disciples took two forms:

  1. the opening of scripture and
  2. the sending of the Holy Spirit to clothe them with power.

Jesus revealed that he is the interpretive key of scripture.  In other words, we can only truly understand scripture by looking through the lens of Christ’s birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension.  This is because the Bible is intended to reveal Christ to those who read it.

By opening the scriptures to his disciples, Jesus was equipping them for the life they had been ushered into.  He gave them the means by which they could continue to grow in their knowledge of him.  He made it so that a part of himself stayed with them, continuing to help them navigate their relationship with God and their neighbor.   The opening of the scriptures was not just about acquiring the means to follow the laws and rules of God.  Yes, the Bible does contain valuable moral and ethical instruction.  However, more than that, scripture helps open us up to a relationship with God and familiarizes us with his voice.  It is impossible to follow Christ unless we know him and can hear his voice.  So, the disciples would not have been able to continue Christ’s ministry without understanding that the scriptures reveal Christ.

Jesus also equipped his followers by sending the Holy Spirit to clothe them in power.  The phrase “clothe them in power” is Luke’s way of previewing the manifestation of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.  On that day, the Holy Spirit, through wind and fire, empowered the disciples to preach Christ in languages they did not know.  Pentecost, the next special day on the worship calendar, was not only the symbolic beginning of the church, it was evidence that God now lived in the hearts of those who love him.  The Holy Spirit alighted on the disciples signifying that God’s presence would no longer be confined to the TempleChrist followers were now the temple of the Living God and Jesus is the cornerstone.

Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit was God, another like himself.  He also taught that the Holy Spirit was the one who empowered him, telling him what the Father said and did.  So, in sending the Holy Spirit to his disciples, Jesus connected them to God in a deep, intimate way.  He offered them, and us, the connection with God that he enjoyed during his time on earth.  Of course, his connection to the Spirit was and is perfect, and our connection is not.  However, the empowerment of the Spirit enabled a ragtag crew of disciples to turn the world upside down.

In the equipping of his followers, we can see Christ’s desire to be known.  The equipping of the disciples consisted of sharing things unique to himself.  One could say that he equipped his disciples by sharing himself with them.  Jesus shared the best he had to give with his followers, withholding nothing.  His desire to give of his own resources for our benefit tells us a lot about who he is.



In addition to equipping his disciples, Jesus spent his last moments on earth sending his followers.  He charged them with preaching the gospel, starting in Jerusalem then throughout the world.  In other words, he invited them to continue the work he started.  Jesus divinely equipped and commissioned them to participate in work only God could do.

  • He did not send them because they were so smart.
  • He did not send them because they deserved it.
  • He did not send them because they were so spiritual.  He did not send them because he needed them.

Christ’s inclusion of his followers betrays the Lord’s desire never to do anything apart from us.  Just like a father inviting his daughter to help with a chore he could do faster by himself, God gets great joy when we participate in his life.  So, he invites Christ’s disciples to continue his ministry of transforming lives by the power of the gospel.

In sending his disciples, Jesus shows his care not only for his followers, but also for those who do not yet know him.  Jesus is the one who leaves the 99 to pursue the 1. He is the woman with ten silver coins who sweeps the entire house to find the one she lost.  Jesus is the father who welcomes with open arms the son who rejected him.                                                                                                                                                                                                  Jesus wants his followers to love their neighbor as he loves us and join him in revealing the presence of the kingdom. He cares for all humanity, not just the ones who call him Lord.



Lastly, Jesus blessed his disciples as his time on earth (in that way) concluded. To be more specific, Jesus continued to bless them as he was ascending into heaven.  To the very last moment, he was speaking words of life over his followers.   No one would fault Jesus if, distracted by the miracle of flight, he stopped his blessing.   No one would fault Jesus if his excitement over being reunited with the Father caused him to stop his blessing.   No one would fault Jesus if the relief of the end of his suffering caused him to stop his blessing.  Yet, Jesus blessed his disciples to the very endThis shows the deep love Jesus had for his followers.  Despite the amazing things happening to him, his unselfish love continued to shower down on the disciples.

If you skip to the end of the tale of Jesus of Nazareth, you get common themes from the rest of his story.  In his last moments on earth,

  • we see Jesus desiring to be known and unselfishly giving from his own resources for the betterment of his followers.
  • We see a God who invites Christians to participate in his saving work because of his boundless love for all humanity.
  • And we find a God who unselfishly expresses his love for his followers to the very end.

Jesus’ story is a love story.   It is the story of a love for the world that was so strong that God gave all he had to give. I   hope it is a story we want to read over and over again.   I hope it is a story we want to live and share.


Small Group Discussion Questions

  • Do you like skipping to the end of a story?
  • Why or why not?
  • After witnessing Jesus’ ascension, why do you think the disciples returned to Jerusalem with great joy?
  • How should the circumstances before and during Christ’s ascension affect how we treat our neighbor?




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