Ascension – out with the old, then the new

Sunday service, Erlo Stegen, 08 May 2016

As it’s mother’s day let’s look at a few women who played a big role in the lives of their children. Very often when someone achieve something you will notice they had a good mother, like Timothy whose mother Eunice and grandmother Lois taught him God’s word from when he was a small boy (2Tim 1:5). He grew up and was Paul’s right hand.
Then there was Susana Wesley who had 19 children. And John and Charles Wesley were her children.
Then there was Elizabeth Whitfield who was a widow with an ordinary job as a cleaner, but she had a son George Whitfield. She told him she was expecting great things from him and God used him mightily. He was a blessed preacher with a very strong voice. When he preached on a ship, even the passers-by could hear him preach.
Ann Moffat was also such a mother. Her son was called Robert. He wanted to become a sailor. His mother said to him, “My son promise me that when you go to work you will pray and ask God to be with you that day”. And Robert Moffat said that that covenant changed him that day into the missionary he became.
Mrs Taylor was also such a mother who dedicated her son to the Lord to become a missionary in China. Her son Hudson Taylor became the famous missionary to China.
A mother plays a very important role in the life of a child.

Mark 16:14-19
“14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.
20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”
Today we look at the Ascension of our Lord in heaven. It was 40 days after His resurrection. After the Lord’s resurrection He would appear to them frequently but He didn’t stay with them as before.
Here we find Him bidding them farewell. He had finished the work His Father sent Him to do, to return to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father.
His Ascension took place at the Mount of Olives, right next to the garden of Gethsemane. That was where He suffered so much. That was where he prayed with His disciples, and commanded them to pray with Him that they fall not into temptation. He Himself went a stone’s throw further and literally fell on the ground and prayed, “Father if it is possible take this cup from Me, nevertheless not My will but Your will be done”. No human ever had to go through such a battle. His sweat drops were as drops of blood.
When He got to His disciples He found them fast asleep, and He challenged them, “Could you not watch with Me one hour?”
He went back to that spot and fell down and prayed again. But when He got back to His disciples they were asleep again. He went and prayed for a third time and returned to them saying, “Get up for the enemy is close at hand”. (Matt 26:36-46)
Jesus suffered greatly because of our sin. How is it that we can take it lightly? He went through hell because of our sin.
Jesus found the disciples on the Mount of Olives and they were busy eating. This was like the last time He would appear to them before His Ascension. It was the final goodbye.
The amazing thing is that the Lord Jesus Ascended from the place where He suffered His greatest humiliation.
There where He suffered humiliation, there He revealed His victory by Ascending to the Father.
It was in that place where He grappled with the devil, hell and your and my sin. Remember how an angel even came to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43).
We read in Isaiah 52 and 53 how that His face was distorted more than any man. And the kings of the earth shut their mouths because of Him (Is 52:14-15).
God the Father even forsook Him because of your and my sin (Matt 27:46; Ps 22:1).
Just listen to how He bids them farewell. He rebukes them! Normally when you bid farewell to your children for the last time you won’t rebuke them. But He rebuked them for their sin. Why? Because of their unbelief and hardness of heart. He had been with them for 40 days. But on the last day He didn’t want to leave them until that sin had been dealt with. He did it because of His great love for them. Remember in Proverbs it says, “He that spares the rod hates his child” (Prov 13:24).
Sin doesn’t grow old. Even if you did that sin years ago the Lord Jesus won’t ignore it or turn a blind eye to it. You might say it’s an old thing, let’s forget about it, but The Lord Jesus wants you to deal with that sin that’s not been brought to the light even if it’s something old from your past.
Let’s turn to you men who are the priests in your home. Are you a good father? Do you set a good example or have you dishonoured the Lord’s name before your family? Have you made it right? Are you training your children in the ways of God or is your only concern for them to be successful in this world?
A certain wealthy man said, “Death is not a problem but I worry what I’ll do with all my wealth and how I could part from it”.
What’s your desire? What do you ask the Lord for your children? Does the Lord’s suffering and agony touch you? Can you pass it on to others? What does the Ascension of the Lord mean to you? Does it work in you to deal with your doubt and hardness of heart?
The Lord’s coming is at hand. May He find you without doubt and hardness of heart.

Music:
KwaSizabantu Choir: DER HERR IST MEIN LICHT

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KwaSizabantu Choir: THANK YOU GOD

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KwaSizabantu Choir: ASAMBENI SIY’ EZULWINI

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KwaSizabantu Choir: How excellent is Thy lovingkindness!

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