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Allow Me to Explain (39 of 439) – Jesus Has Left the Planet

October 15, 2011

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39. When did Jesus ascend into heaven? Luke 24:1-51, Mark 16:9-19 vs. John 20:26 vs. Acts 13:31 vs. Acts 1:2-3, 9

I’m not going to quote all of Luke 24 and Mark 16:9-19, because they’re long passages. I’m pulling out what is pertinent. If you think it’s because I’m hiding something, you’re more than welcome to read it for yourself. Luke 24 is here. Mark 16:9-19 is here.

Luke 24:13, 29, 33a, 36, 51
13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. … 29 But tthey constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them. … 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem … 36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them … 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.

Mark 16:19
9 Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, … 12 After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. … 14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; … 19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.

John 20:26
And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

Acts 13:31
and he was seen for many days of them that came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses unto the people.

Acts 1:2-3, 9
until the day in which he was received up, after that he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom he also showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God: … And when he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

First of all, I’m eliminating Mark 16 and Acts 13 from the discussion because neither of them provides any numbers. “After that,” “Later,” and “many days” don’t make anyone’s point.

I’m also going to eliminate John 20:26 and accuse it of being another proof that the creators of this poster didn’t actually expect anyone to read it. All that we learn from John 20:26 is that when Jesus came back to meet His eleven, it was eight days later than the first time.

That leaves Luke 24 and Acts 1. Luke 24 could seem to say that Jesus was only around for a day or two. Acts 1 clearly tells us He appeared to His disciples for forty days.

The problem with the “contradiction” is that Luke 24 doesn’t tell us that Jesus was only around for a day or two.

Two evidences:

  1. Verse 45, “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.”
    .
    I don’t think He zapped them into perfect understanding. I think He taught them, like He wanted them to go and teach others. In the rest of the book of Acts, we never see an apostle try to lay hands on someone for the comprehension of the Scriptures. It’s absurd. But if Jesus had done it to me, and then told me to go do the works that He did, I’d try it. They didn’t. Because Jesus didn’t do it to them.
    .
    I think they had an epic, crash course in the Old Testament, and we don’t know how long it took.
     .
  2. Luke 24 doesn’t mention the beach breakfast we read about in John 21. (Remember, it’s two different people telling the same story. It’s not a contradiction, it’s a compliment.)

How long was Jesus on the earth between resurrection and ascension? Forty days. It’s the only number scripture gives us.

Is it all too conveniently vague? If you’re hell-bent on finding fault, maybe, but remember: It’s a story. It’s not an accounting log, or an instruction manual. God’s word is not about providing a squeaky-clean, water-tight, indisputable proof of His existence. He doesn’t need to prove His existence. His word is a revelation of His character and His nature. It’s a glimpse of heaven on earth, and inspiration to holiness among the corrupt.

So maybe the timeline is vague in some aspects, but what does it matter to the One who is outside of time?

The point is that Jesus did rise from the dead three days later, that dozens of people witnessed it, that He spent a little time here preparing the future of His Church, and that He ascended to heaven where He is seated at the right hand of the throne of glory.

The point is that to rise from the dead, you have to first be dead. And that the perfect One – whom death had no right to – died just the same because the one He loves does deserve it. His ascension is a function of his resurrection. His resurrection only happened because He died, and His death was all for you. Don’t miss the forrest for the trees.

The only real contradiction is between our understanding of truth and our response to it.

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