1998-10-15 - Going Home
The Cross Series, Part 56
Luke 24:50-53 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 And it came about that while He was blessing them, He parted from them. 52 And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple, praising God.
The disciples are in following mode again. Jesus gets up and they follow Him to Bethany. On the way they will pass near the Mount of Olives. Bethany is only about two miles from Jerusalem. It would not have been a long walk. In recent weeks, Bethany had figured prominently in Jesus' life. The home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha was in Bethany. In their home there have been great celebration after Lazarus was raised from the dead. Jesus had experienced, first hand, the pain of losing a loved one. Jesus spent at least one night in Bethany during His last week before the crucifixion. It was also in Bethany at the home of Simon the leaper that Jesus was anointed by Mary.
Isa 53:3-5 He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely our griefs He himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.
Jesus had felt the pain you and I feel when we are separated by death from a friend. This is another instance where Jesus identified directly with us so He could know what we go through. Because of His willingness to live the life we live, He can not rightly be called distant. He is intimately acquainted with us and our daily struggles to our deepest griefs, to our greatest joys.
Thirty-three years prior, Jesus had left the splendor of Heaven. Able to clothe Himself in pure light and glory if He so desired at His whim. He left it all to be born of a poor, virgin girl. He lived in a foreign country for the first several years of his life. He learned His step-father's trade. It seems likely that Joseph died before Jesus was age 30.
During His three-year ministry, He demonstrated His power and authority over demons and sicknesses that were feared and misunderstood. He gave the people hope again, that God was not a book of rules but wanted to be a Father to them. He had been lauded and praised; ridiculed, misrepresented and scorned. He had been turned over to be executed by the very people He had come to serve and to save as their Messiah - in obedience to the will of the Father. For one terrible moment in time, the Father had turned His back on Jesus as He bore our sins upon the cross. He had been born to die and rise again to defeat death and sin. The outcome was not in question, but it came at a terrible cost which only He could pay. Because of His sacrifice, we are free.
Eph 2:1-2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
Now, Bethany becomes the place from where Jesus will return home. As a final demonstration of His power and a lasting memory to His friends, Jesus ascends through the air to the clouds and disappears. The Lord leaves through what had been the enemy's 'air space', or realm of control. Jesus had taken the keys of death and Hell in His victory. He could now sit down at the right hand of the Father. Jesus does not rest there, but He goes to the Father interceding for the church.
Rom 8:33-34 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
It's always good to get home after a long trip. This was not an easy road to be sure. Jesus had reopened the road between God and man, clearing away the rubble and debris of traditions, rules and rote. In going home, the Lord had reopened the road home for us too.
Lord Jesus, Only You could have done the things that needed to be done, paid the price that had to be paid to pull us out of the slave markets as slaves in this world. We had no means to free ourselves, and so You came. In love, You lowered Yourself to our level and lived our life to show that You know us. Then, died and rose again to demonstrate Your victory to us. The highway home was cleared and the door to the house was unlocked. We have eternity to learn and may never know the sum total of Your love for us. Help us to know the victory You have won for us and given to us. Shine through us and draw the world to Yourself. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.