v. 44-53 Jesus said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." Jesus told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." Jesus led them out to the vicinity of Bethany. "He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God."
Between the last verses and this section, Jesus had been with the disciples for 40 days before going to Heaven. Jesus spent time with the disciples instructing them on their task and removing doubts. Jesus told them that the prophesies had been fulfilled from the Old Testament. I love that it says that Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. At this point they must have let go of their pride and ambition so they were open to receiving the wisdom of the Word. This is very important: If we let go then we can get to know Him and His word. Let's say you don't forgive someone then I don't think you will get the greatest knowledge of the Word. Don't let petty things hold you back from getting this. We are only hurting ourselves when we latch onto things of the world, when they don't matter in the end. If you are a Christian and you are any of the following: critical, angry, proud, selfish, prone to gossip, condemning, cynical, etc; I hope you will work on those areas. I know that I have some areas I need to work on because I don't want anything to block God's wisdom in my life.
Jesus said that repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations. That is our task as believers; it is not to judge others, be taken over by bitterness, be proud and think we are better than anyone else. I think there is a place for those that give warnings to others about not repenting (the fire and brimstone preaching), but we have to come from a place of love and I don't think the negative should be the focus. When I write my posts they are for me too. I need this to keep me in line and accountable to God.
Jesus told them that when He left He would leave them the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is with all who believe and is here to help and guide us. He told them to stay in the city until they were given power from God. Sometimes in the beginning we feel like running off to some third world country to help people when we should stay where we are to gain wisdom and power.
Of all the places He could have chosen why Bethany? This was a small village outside of Jerusalem. He chose an out of the way place to ascend to Heaven when He could have chosen the temple in Jerusalem. If it was any other man it probably would have been a grand spectacle for all to see. Bethany was were Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and a possible meaning of Bethany was "house of figs." In 2 Kings 20 it talks about making a poultice of figs to heal someone. Throughout the bible figs were talked about as a sign of either being prosperous or if disaster struck then the figs withered. It was a gauge of how the people were toward God.
Jesus led them to Bethany and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Jesus was blessing them on His way up to Heaven. All saw the price He paid to bless them with authority. I can picture it: His outstretched hands with visible scars from where the nails have ripped through His skin, palms open to welcome all to Him, showing love to the world on His way home. It must have been beautiful! It said they had great joy and continually praised God at the temple. You all don't know how excited I get for Jesus and to write this blog. I have a spiritual hunger for God and I never want that to change to a passive watered down religion. When I have a good post it is like a happy drug that makes my day. There is nothing else on earth that can fill that, I have tried many things that failed to work in the past.
Jesus left simply, there didn't appear to be great legions of angels or any big signs along with His leaving. When we teach it should be simply and with love. This is in contrast to when He comes back again, ALL will see His return.