June 02, 2019

Rev. Bernt P. Tweit



First Lesson; Acts 1:1-11

Second Lesson; Ephesians 1:16-23                             

Sermon Text; Luke 24:44-53


This last Thursday was May 30th.  This last Thursday happened to be Ascension Day.  On Thursday I was out and about visiting some of our members in their homes.  Part of what I would say, when I would enter their home was, “Happy Ascension Day!”  It gave me an opportunity to talk to them about what Ascension Day means to us.  One of our home-bound members looked at me, and said, “I know it is Ascension Day, because this morning in my daily devotional I read about it.” 

So, today is an opportunity for me to encourage daily devotions.  If you use The Meditations booklet, you will know the daily devotions in this booklet have run out.  But, starting today, there are new devotions for the next three months. On your way out, there are devotional booklets on the back table.  I encourage you to grab one on your way out.

-What is Ascension Day, and what does it mean? 

Oftentimes we don't focus on Ascension Day, because it falls forty days after Easter, which is a Thursday.  Generally, we don't have worship services on Thursdays.  We worship on Sundays (and Monday evenings).  But, today I want to do just that, and focus on Ascension Day.  If you heard earlier in our service, we said it twice.  We said The Nicene Creed, as a congregation. And then, you heard Pastor Bartels, in the baptismal sacrament, go through The Apostle's Creed.  In each of those creeds we said these four words about Jesus:  

“He ascended into Heaven”.

Let's look a little bit more closely at the ascension of our Savior, Jesus, as we look at our text for today, from Luke, chapter twenty four, verses forty four to fifty three.  In the last paragraph it is going to talk about Jesus' ascension.

The second thing I am going to talk about is the first two paragraphs.  This is the final commission Jesus gave, before He went into Heaven. 

This is in Jesus' name.  Here, Jesus is speaking with His disciples, when He said to them:


He said to them, “These are my words, which I spoke 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 to understand the Scriptures.  He said to them, “This is what is written and so it must be:  The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  Look, I am sending you what my Father promised.  But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
He led them out as far as the vicinity of Bethany.  He lifted up His hands and blessed them.  And while He was blessing them, He parted from them and was taken up into Heaven.  So they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  They were continually in the temple courts, praising and blessing God.



This is God's Word.


So, it is the final paragraph of our text for today that tells us about Jesus' ascension into Heaven.  It simply says Jesus took His disciples, and He led them east from Jerusalem toward the city of Bethany.  This would be the eastern slope of the Mt. Of Olives, where after giving a final commission, Jesus ascended into Heaven.

-Well, what does the ascension of Jesus mean for us? 

-What does the ascension of Jesus teach us?  

Our catechism answers that question, when it says, “The ascension of Jesus teaches us we should be heavenly minded, and have a desire to depart, and to be with Him.”

There is a proof passage that is also given there that is from Colossians, chapter three that says,

“Set your hearts on things above”.

The fact that Jesus has ascended into Heaven should mean everything for you, and for me.  And yet, you know what?  I will say this about myself, and you can maybe say this about yourselves, “Oftentimes, we forget about Jesus ascending into Heaven.  Oftentimes we forget to be heavenly minded, because we are so wrapped up in what is taking place here.  We can be so consumed with what is going on here, we are not focused on what Jesus, our Savior, has won for us.”

Over a hundred years ago, there was a train accident that happened down in the Carolina's.  There was a draw bridge that was open.  There was a train that was barreling down the track.  The switch-man was waving a flag, encouraging that train conductor to stop.  But, the train conductor went full speed ahead.  A few cars went off the open track, and there were some people who perished.

They had an investigation as to what took place.  They interviewed the switch-man, and they interviewed the train conductor.  And, this is what they found out. The switch-man swore under oath, “I was waving a red flag.  That red flag meant danger.  It meant stop.”

They interviewed the train conductor.  The train conductor swore under oath, “I saw a white flag being raised, or waved.  The white flag meant things were good.  Full speed ahead.”

Well, they went, and found the flag.  This is what they found out.  The flag once upon a time had been red.  But, because it had been wind whipped, and weather worn for so long, from a distance, that flag looked white.

It is a reminder to us not to become a wind whipped, weather worn flag, as we present the Word of God, not only to other people, but as we apply the Word of God to ourselves, so we don't get into the thinking of only the here and now, but we become heavenly minded in the way we live our lives.

Somebody once told me, “You really get to know your vehicle, when you wax it”.  I was thinking about that this past week, when I was waxing one of my vehicles.  From a distance, my vehicle looked fine.  But, you get up close, and wash that vehicle.  Upon washing it, you see some of the imperfections.  You see from the winter, some of the tar.  You see some of the tree sap.  You see some of the bugs that are on your car.  You start to wax your car, and you really start to see the number of imperfections that there are. 

That is part of the message of God's Word in our lives.  Part of the message of God's Word is revealing The Law to us. 

-The Law, in its simplicity, does what?  The Law shows us our sins.  The Law simply says,

“The wages of sin is death”. 

A wage is what we deserve for what we have done.  The Law simply tells all of us what we deserve, because of our sin - death. 

The clear message of God's Word, dear friends, doesn't just stop right there in revealing God's Law to us, but it also reveals our Savior to us, as well.  In revealing the Gospel, and in revealing our Savior to us, it reveals to us what Jesus has done for our salvation.  Notice what The Nicene Creed said about that in revealing Jesus to us.  I am going to share these words with you, again.  

“For us, and for our salvation...”,

(so here is what Jesus did for you, and for me)  

“Jesus came down from Heaven. 

He was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,

and became fully human. 

For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. 

He suffered death and was buried. 

The third day He rose again

in accordance with the scriptures

and He ascended into Heaven.”

The message of God's Word is not only clear in its Law, but the message of God's Word is also clear in its Gospel, reminding us Jesus has done everything necessary for our salvation.

So, that is what Jesus told His disciples, when He said in our text for today,

“...He opened their minds to understand the scriptures.” 

Then, the disciples understood the work Jesus had come to do was complete.  The message Jesus came to do had been fulfilled for you, and for me.

I loved going to my grandpa and grandma's house, when I was younger.  I was a city boy.  They lived out in the country.  Oftentimes, my grandpa would like to turn on the TV in the evening.  (Now, this is the days before cable television, out in the rural areas.  So, here is what he would do.)  He liked to watch baseball, and maybe Lawrence Welk.  He would turn the TV on, and get it to the right station.  But, sometimes the station was fuzzy!  So he would go to that box on the top of the TV.  He would turn a radial dial, and I would start to hear a “click, click, click.” 

What was happening was the antenna on the TV tower was starting to turn.  It was starting to align itself with the city the signal was coming from.  Then, the TV was crystal clear.  There was never a problem with the signal.  The signal was always strong, but the problem was with how the antenna was aligned.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I share that with you this morning, because the problem is not with the power, strength, and signal of God's Word.  The problem can lie in us, when we are so consumed with the things that are happening to us here, in this world, and not being heavenly minded in our living, and in our thinking. 

Christ has done everything necessary for our salvation.  Through His life, through His death, through His resurrection, through His appearance to many people over the period of forty days, and through His ascension into Heaven, Jesus has done everything necessary for our salvation.  Repentance and forgiveness of sins may be proclaimed to you, and to me.

And so, as Jesus was ascending into Heaven, He gave a final commission, which we call The Great Commission, in telling His disciples what to do. 

Now, this conversation did not happen.  It did not happen, so understand me correctly, but imagine if it did. 

When Jesus ascended into Heaven, the angels were there to welcome Him.  They said to Jesus, “Is your mission accomplished?”

Jesus answered, “Yes, my mission is accomplished.  I won salvation for them, by my death on the cross.”
To which the angels said, “Does everybody then know about you?”

Jesus said, “No.”

So, the angels said, “Well, what is your plan?”
Jesus said, “My plan is I left the disciples behind, and I left other people behind to tell other people about what I have done.”
To which the angels responded, “Jesus, what is your plan B?”
Guys, there is no plan B.  There is no plan B.  Jesus left His disciples behind, and He left others behind to do that work.  That was the final commission.  That was The Great Commission.  The reason you are here today is because somebody told you about Jesus.  Somebody shared Jesus with you.  Probably it was a parent.  Maybe a family member, or extended family.  Maybe a friend, or an acquaintance.  But when they told you about Jesus, what were they doing?  They were sharing the final commission.  They were sharing The Great Commission.  May we go, and do likewise, as Jesus said,

“Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father,

and of the Son,

and of the Holy Spirit,

teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you. 

Surely I am with you always,

to the very end of the age.”