Acts 1:3-26 is a section concerned with preparation. As we have seen, in 1:3-8 we have Christ’s preparation of the disciples in His resurrection. Now we shall go on to consider Christ’s ascension (vv. 9-11) and the disciples’ preparation (vv. 12-26).
Acts 1:9 says, “And when He had said these things, while they were looking, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him up out of their sight.” Luke’s Gospel ends with the Lord’s ascension into heaven (Luke 24:51), and his Acts begins with it. His Gospel is a narrative of the ministry of the incarnated Jesus on earth. His Acts is a record of the succeeding ministry of the resurrected and ascended Christ in heaven carried out through His believers on earth. In the Gospels, the Lord’s ministry on earth, carried out by Himself, only sowed Himself as the seed of the kingdom of God into His believers, with no church built up yet. In Acts, the Lord’s ministry in heaven, carried out through His believers in His resurrection and ascension, spreads Him as the development of the kingdom of God for the building up of the church (Matt. 16:18) throughout the entire world to constitute His Body, His fullness (Eph. 1:23), to express Him, even the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19) for God’s expression.
Acts 1:10 and 11 say, “And as they were looking intently into heaven as He went, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them, who also said, Men, Galileans, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you beheld Him going into heaven.” The Lord’s ascension points to His coming back. Between His ascension and His coming back there is the dispensation of grace so that He as the pneumatic Christ, the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45), may apply His all-inclusive redemption to God’s chosen people for their full salvation, that He may produce and build up the church, as His Body, for the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth.
The vision of Christ’s ascension into heaven strengthened the disciples’ faith in Him and in what He had done for them through His death and resurrection. It broadened their view of God’s heavenly economy, which had brought them into cooperation with Christ’s ministry in the heavens for the carrying out of God’s New Testament economy on the earth.
After the Lord Jesus had spoken to His disciples for a period of forty days concerning the kingdom of God, He was taken up from them visibly. He ascended physically right before their eyes. We may say that this too was part of the Lord’s “education” of the disciples.
The disciples must have been deeply impressed and very excited when they witnessed Christ’s ascension. As they were watching Him ascend, they certainly were not weeping. On the contrary, they must have been happy, realizing that they were seeing something marvelous.
As the disciples were looking intently into heaven, two men in white clothing stood beside them. These two men, who were actually angels, asked the disciples why they were standing looking into heaven. Then they went on to say that the very Jesus who was taken up from them into heaven would come in the same way as they had seen Him going into heaven. This indicates that just as the Lord Jesus ascended physically, He will also come back physically. Christ ascended into heaven by way of a cloud, visible to human sight, and He will come back on a cloud (Matt. 24:30). Furthermore, He ascended from the top of Mount Olivet (Acts 1:12), and He will come back to the same mount (Zech. 14:4). We definitely believe that in His coming back the Lord Jesus will set His feet on Mount Olivet.
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