Thursday, May 25, 2017

Jesus’ farewell—a blessing

"The disciples watch as Jesus ascends into heaven"

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Luke 24:36-53

TO CHEW ON: “And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass while He blessed them, that He parted from them and carried up into heaven.” Luke 24:50,51

According to Luke, Jesus ascended into heaven as He was in the middle of blessing His disciples. This is a detail I’ve never noticed before.

I went on a little search for other places God blessed people:

  • God’s blessing came early, before the fall, when God blessed Adam and Eve
“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” - Genesis 1:28.

  • God pronounced blessing again on Noah, repeating some of the same blessings He pronounced on Adam and Eve. To that blessing He added a bit about the uniqueness of human life (a blessing, we might call it) in the form of a warning:
“ Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man.
“Whoever sheds man’s blood,

/ By man his blood shall be shed;
 /For in the image of God
 / He made man”  Genesis 9:5,6

  • God blessed Abram:
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
 I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” - Genesis 12:2,3

  • God blessed Jacob. After wrestling through the night with a Man, Jacob asked for a blessing. He received a name change (from Jacob to Israel) and a blessing - Genesis 32:26-29.

  • God blessed Mary, Jesus' mother-to-be. An angel visitor said this blessing:
““Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”[ - Luke 1:28.

  • Jesus blessed the children - Mark 10:15

  • Jesus blessed Peter after he answered Jesus’ question: ‘But who do you say I am?’ with “‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” Jesus’ blessing:
'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.'” - Matthew 16:17-19.
  • And here Jesus blessed His followers as He left them - Luke 24:50,51. 

I wonder what He said. Maybe something like the wonderful Aaronic blessing from Numbers 6:24-26?
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”’

Whatever it was it struck a good note, for the disciples left the spot of His last presence on earth, not with the tears of mourning we would expect from people who had just said goodbye to their dear friend, but with “great joy.” Their next days were characterized by "praising and blessing God."

Does Jesus’ blessing echo down to us? Are we similarly blessed [consecrated to God’s use, caused to prosper, made happy, favoured by God]?

I believe we are. Let’s live today with joy, praise, and worship in the light of Jesus’ ascension blessing on us!

Dear Jesus, thank You for this account of Your ascension on the high note of Your favour. Help me to claim and live in Your blessing as mine today. Amen.

MORE: Ascension Day

Today is the day the church celebrates the ascension of Jesus into heaven. The liturgy for the day begins with this collect prayer:

"Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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