The Work of Christ on Earth is Done
Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of man was complete. The condition of the atonement had been fulfilled. The work for which He had come to this world had been accomplished. He had won the kingdom. He had wrested it from Satan and had become the heir of all things. He was on His way to the throne of God, to be honoured by the heavenly host.
Christ Last Commands
Clothed with boundless authority, He gave His disciples their commission, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end.” Matthew 28:19, Matthew 28:20.
Just before leaving His disciples, Christ once more plainly stated the nature of His kingdom. He recalled to the remembrance things He had previously told them regarding it. He declared that it was not His purpose to establish in this world a temporal kingdom. He was not appointed to reign as an earthly monarch on David’s throne.
When the disciples asked Him, “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.” Acts 1:6, Acts 1:7. They didn’t need to see farther into the future than the revelations He had made enabled them to see. Their work was to proclaim the gospel message.
Holy Spirit is Coming
Christ’s visible presence was about to be withdrawn from the disciples, but a new endowment of power was to be theirs. The Holy Spirit was to be given them in its fullness, sealing them for their work. “Behold,” the Saviour said, “I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.”
Luke 24:49. “For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:5, Acts 1:6, Acts 1:7, Acts 1:8.
The Saviour knew that no argument, however logical, would melt hard hearts or break through the crust of worldliness and selfishness. He knew that His disciples must receive the heavenly endowment; that the gospel would be effective only as it was proclaimed by hearts made warm and lips made eloquent by a living knowledge of Him who is the way, the truth, and the life.
The work committed to the disciples would require great efficiency; for the tide of evil ran deep and strong against them. A vigilant, determined leader was in command of the forces of darkness, and the followers of Christ could battle for the right only through the help that God, by His Spirit, would give them.
Start in Jerusalem
Christ told His disciples that they were to begin their work at Jerusalem. That city had been the scene of His amazing sacrifice for the human race. There, clad in the garb of humanity, He had walked and talked with men, and few had discerned how near heaven came to earth.
There He had been condemned and crucified. In Jerusalem were many who secretly believed Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah and many who had been deceived by priests and rulers.
To these, the gospel must be proclaimed. They were to be called to repentance. The wonderful truth that through Christ alone could remission of sins be obtained, was to be made plain. And it was while all Jerusalem was stirred by the thrilling events of the past few weeks, that the preaching of the disciples would make the deepest impression.
Proclaim the Kingdom of God
During His ministry, Jesus had kept constantly before the disciples the fact that they were to be one with Him in His work for the recovery of the world from the slavery of sin. When He sent forth the Twelve and afterwards the Seventy, to proclaim the kingdom of God, He was teaching them their duty to impart to others what He had made known to them.
In all His work He was training them for individual labour, to be extended as their numbers increased, and eventually to reach to the uttermost parts of the earth. The last lesson He gave His followers was that they held in trust for the world the glad tidings of salvation.
Christ on Ascension Day
When the time came for Christ to ascend to His Father, He led the disciples out as far as Bethany. Here He paused, and they gathered about Him. With hands outstretched in blessing, as if in the assurance of His protecting care, He slowly ascended from among them. “It came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.” Luke 24:51.
While the disciples were gazing upward to catch the last glimpse of their ascending Lord, He was received into the rejoicing ranks of heavenly angels. As these angels escorted Him to the courts above, they sang in triumph, “Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord, to Him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens…. Ascribe ye strength unto God: His excellency is over Israel, and His strength is in the heavens.” Psalm 68:32, Psalm 68:33, Psalm 68:34.
The disciples were still looking earnestly toward heaven when “behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, 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 1:10, Acts 1:11.
The promise of Christ’s second coming was ever to be kept fresh in the minds of His disciples. The same Jesus whom they had seen ascending into heaven, would come again, to take to Himself those who here below give themselves to His service. The same voice that had said to them, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end,” would bid them welcome to His presence in the heavenly kingdom.
As in the typical service the high priest laid aside his pontifical robes and officiated in the white linen dress of an ordinary priest; so, Christ laid aside His royal robes and garbed Himself with humanity and offered sacrifice, Himself the priest, Himself the victim.
As the high priest, after performing his service in the holy of holies, came forth to the waiting congregation in his pontifical robes; so, Christ will come the second time, clothed in garments of whitest white, “so as no fuller on earth can white them.” Mark 9:3. He will come in His own glory, and the glory of His Father and all the angelic host will escort Him on His way.
Thus, will be fulfilled Christ’s promise to His disciples, “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself.” John 14:3. Those who have loved Him and waited for Him, He will crown with glory and honour and immortality.
The righteous dead will come forth from their graves, and those who are alive will be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air. They will hear the voice of Jesus, sweeter than any music that ever fell on mortal ear, saying to them, Your warfare is accomplished.
“Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:34.
Well, might the disciples rejoice in the hope of their Lord’s return?
Share Christ Before Ascension Day
Share this post Christ Before Ascension Day with your friends and followers on social media.