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 24:50-53)
I left the hospital when my dad had cancer, knowing the next time I returned to Ohio it would be for his funeral. I was dejected, crying most of the way home to Florida, knowing I wouldn’t see him on earth again. In the same way, Jesus’ disciples knew they would never see Him again, so Luke leaves us wondering why they returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
Perhaps, the disciples changed. Remember how downcast they were when he died and took all their hopes from them? What caused them to change? Ah! Jesus opened their minds, and they understood Scripture. They were happy because they had a clear picture of who Jesus was and where He was going. They saw His glory when God came for him just as Peter, James, and John saw His glory during the Transfiguration when God was with Jesus and said, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased. Jesus would return to His glory sitting on a throne next to God. They were happy for Jesus.
They were also happy for themselves. They were forgiven and could have fellowship directly with God through Jesus, our personal High Priest. They no longer had to sacrifice animals or try to follow the hundreds of commandments in the Old Testament in addition to the Ten Commandments. All the Laws they couldn’t follow were replaced with love God, love your neighbor, and make disciples of all nations. A huge burden was taken off their shoulders and ours.
They understood death. It was no longer gloomy. They saw Jesus’ transformed body. He could walk through walls and be transported immediately from one place to another. He still had wounds, but they were healed. They knew what a wonderful place heaven was and that they would be going there. The dreams in their hearts came alive. They understood their purpose and knew they would receive spiritual gifts and power from the Holy Spirit to help them achieve their purpose while they were praising God at the temple.
Father God, thank you for leaving me Scripture so I can understand the Trinity and know Your heart. Give me wisdom to understand the Book of Acts and apply it to my life. I praise you for the hope of heaven, my spiritual gifts, and Your refuge. Because of Jesus, you know when I worship you, and you’re with me when I pray. Thank you for Your love. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.