It seems that late winter and early spring afford us nothing but letdowns. Thanksgiving starts the Christmas season. With Advent our hearts gear up for the coming of Jesus! Then the decorations come down, the hymns are gone. Wait, we’ve still got New Year’s! If that’s enough to repulse the winter blahs, how about the Super Bowl? Yet, when the football season has passed, what is there but to wait for summer?
Lent seems to bring a similar diminished excitement. Each week of Lent intensifies the anticipation. We move through Holy Week knowing what’s at the end. We thrill at Christ’s resurrection!
Then He ascends into heaven and that’s it…Or is it?
Teach from Scripture
Recall Jesus’ words on the event of His ascension. Matthew chapter twenty eight, reads, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus wants the disciples to know that He will abide with them each day until He returns to take the faithful to heaven. This was important for the disciples especially, given the charge He has just spoken. “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 that I have commanded you.” Jesus promises that He will remain even after His ascension.
At Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon those gathered in Jerusalem, Peter quotes the book of Joel, where God says, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” God’s Holy Spirit has come to the believers, equipping them to share the Good News of Jesus, to fulfill the Great Commission, evidenced by tongues of fire and the ability to speak in the local languages. Pentecost fulfilled God’s promise in Joel. Even more significantly, this event fulfills Jesus’ promise to His disciples and to us as recorded in John chapter fourteen. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” It’s vital to recognize that, as Jesus is fully God, the Pentecost Holy Spirit is Jesus’ Spirit. What’s more, He comes in Christ’s Name.
Another important event in the book of Acts if Paul’s conversion. Saul encounters Jesus on the road to Damascus, taking the future apostle to task for his persecution. A second event is Peter’s vision of the sheet and animals in Acts chapter ten. Pentecost and the events in Acts are effective tools for presenting Jesus’ continued role after His ascension. Jesus keeps His promises and fulfills prophecies of the Old Testament.
Teach the Sacraments
It would be remiss to present Jesus after the ascension without highlighting the Sacraments, Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Scripture attests that the Sacraments are not merely acts of commitment or signs, but rather God’s action, bringing together His Word with the visible elements of water, Holy Baptism, and bread and wine, the Lord’s Supper. Jesus Himself was baptized, not for His own sins, but rather that as we are baptized, we would receive the benefits of His death and resurrection, namely, forgiveness of sins. Baptism also brings faith and the Holy Spirit. Romans six reads, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
Christ tells us that He is truly present in the Lord’s Supper. Holy Communion is an excellent example of Jesus’ continued activity after His ascension. Jesus is truly present in, with and under the bread and wine. We receive Christ into ourselves for the forgiveness of sins and fortification of faith. When presenting Christ in Holy Communion, stress that we receive the crucified and resurrected Christ. Therefore, we receive the benefits of His death and resurrection-peace with God through the blood of the Lamb and eternal life through the one who rose on Easter morning in victory over sin, death and the power of the devil.
Teach with Music
Music is a great way to present Jesus’ continued ministry following the ascension. Consider using these songs as selected from All God’s People Sing. #81 Christ Be My Leader, “Death cannot old me for he is the truth.” #102 Go, My Children, with My Blessing, “I the Lord with be your Father, Savior, Comforter and Brother. #126 I Am Trusting You, Lord Jesus, “Every day and hour supplying all my need. #171 Lord, Take May Hand and Lead Me, “So, take my Hand, O Savior, and lead the way.” Songs like these highlight the continued presence and activity of Jesus in the day to day life of Christian. They are excellent for Sunday School, chapel or similar event.
Teach with hands-on activities
Consider these practical ideas for present Jesus after the ascension. Ask the pastor to talk to the Sunday school class regarding Baptism and Holy Communion. Kids love hands-on experiences. So, be sure to present items used in both Sacraments. Help the students to understand that Jesus is present in each baptism and each time we receive Holy Communion. If the pastor in unavailable, a called teacher, elder or other leader could present as well.
The Good News is that we love and serve a risen Savior. He is alive and active in His Word and Sacraments. He answers our prayers and advocates for us before the Father. Jesus promises that He will never forsake us, that He will be with us to the end of the age.