Going home

Jesus’ ascension into heaven is only mentioned briefly in two of the gospels, and again in the book of Acts. Mark stated, “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19). The Greek word Mark used to describe what happened, analambano suggested that heaven was opened up as if there was a door that Jesus simply had to walk through. The prefix ana (an-ah´) is properly translated as up, but by extension it can be used distributively to mean severally, or locally at (G303). Luke used two different words in his account of Jesus’ ascension which is recorded in both Luke 24:50-53 and Acts 1:6-9. Luke stated in his gospel that Jesus was “carried up” (Luke 24:51) anaphero (an-af-er´-o). Luke’s use of this word to describe Christ’s departure likely meant that Jesus didn’t want to leave Earth, but it was time for him to go, somewhat like a child that is having fun playing outdoors being called by his parent to come home for dinner (G303/G5342). Luke said “a cloud received him out of their sight” (Luke 1:9). In other words, a cloud blocked their view of Jesus. Piecing together Mark and Luke’s stories, you can almost imagine Jesus hearing his Father’s voice telling him, “It’s time to come home Son,” and Jesus obediently walking through a door to Heaven and suddenly disappearing.

Luke used the phrase “taken up” (Acts 1:9) epairo (ep-ahee´-ro) in the account of Jesus’ ascension that is recorded in the book of Acts. The reason Luke used the word epairo in Acts instead of anaphero may have something to do with Jesus’ position as opposed to his location. In the book of Acts, Luke was probably referring to Jesus taking his position at the right hand of God. The two Greek words that are combined to form the word epairo, epi (ep-ee´) and airo (ah´-ee-ro) have to do with Christ taking upon himself the sin of the world (G1909/G142). The right hand of God is “a position of authority second only to God’s” (note on Mark 16:19). As a result of his death on the cross, Jesus was exalted to the highest position a man could attain. Peter explained this transaction in the sermon he preached on the day of Pentecost. He said, “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:32-36).

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