Thoughts for the Day

Thursday, 9th May 2024: Ascension Day 2024

Atonement Resurrection Crucifixion Ascension Acts 1

Reading : Verses from Acts, Chapter 1


In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


The Ascension Jesus gets little attention these days, perhaps because the Bible speaks little about Jesus' ascension. It only appears really twice in the original texts, at the end of Luke's Gospel (Luke 24.50-53), then in his second work The Acts of the Apostles (above). The Greek word for 'rising' (anabasis ) only appears in these two books. Surprisingly Matthew's Gospel (Matthew 28.16-20) has Jesus giving His disciples commands to take the gospel to the world, but does not have his ascension. The original ending of Mark's Gospel also does not have the ascension, though the later ending does.

But the ascension of Jesus is important. We should never forget that Jesus left His divinity behind and was born as a child (the incarnation), that he lived and died on a cross as an offering for our sin (the atonement) to reunite us with God. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead therefore needs the final act, the ascension, since it is the ascension to his throne. The biblical writers see the ascension as incomplete until Christ sits on His glorious throne. After all that is whom we ask address our prayers to each day. Having lived as a man He understands our frailty and it is He who intercedes for us. The ascension is the fruit of all that goes before.

However, Ascension Day is also a time when Jesus passes on the baton, as it were, to his followers. It is now up to them (and to us) to tell the world about everything they learnt from Jesus.


Collect for Ascension Day

Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that as we believe your only-begotten Son
our Lord Jesus Christ
to have ascended into the heavens,
so we in heart and mind may also ascend
and with him continually dwell;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Follow Up Thoughts

Here are some more prayers for Ascension Day or Ascension Sunday, from the Methodist Church:

And here is an easy to understand explanation of the Ascension:

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