And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.…
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES.
I. The place. It is only natural that a sacred interest should attach to the spot which received the last print of the Redeemer's footsteps. No doubt the honour accorded to particular places may open the door to much of fraud, and folly, and superstition. But the Mount of Olives was a fit scene for the ascension. Around no other spot does there gather such a cluster of hallowed associations.
2. The witnesses. Romulus is said to have gone up into the clouds in a thunderstorm, and of Mahomet it is pretended that he was miraculously taken up into heaven; but no witnesses were ever produced who saw these events. Our Lord was careful to have chosen and competent witnesses. He did not challenge all Jerusalem to see what was going to take place; nor invite the five hundred assembled at Galilee. The miracle is not harder to believe than that eleven holy and loving men should be mistaken in the identity of one, with whom they had eaten and discoursed after He rose from the dead.
3. The form of transport. A cloud: that emblem of mingled obscurity and light which Deity often employs as a medium through which to converse with man. Thus Jehovah "maketh the clouds His chariot." Of the glory which settled on the Mount of Transfiguration, the characteristic feature is that it was "a bright cloud." It was a pillar of cloud which went before Israel in the wilderness, and it was the descending cloud at the dedication of the Temple which told of an accepted sacrifice, and an approving and present God. Most fitting was it, therefore, that such a substance should enshrine the glorified humanity of Jesus. It spoke of His Deity. It connected Him more directly with the symbolisms and revelations of the heavenly world. It preserved the weak vision of the disciples from being confounded and dazzled. It prefigured the method of their Lord's return.
4. The manner. It was mild, merciful, and majestic. Like a conqueror, wreathing his brow with trophies — like a priest, lifting up his hands to bless — like a parent, gathering his loved ones round to give them a parting charge. He gave them —
(1) a charge: "Go ye therefore and teach all nations," etc.
(2) A parting promise: "Lo, I am with you alway."
(3) A benediction: "And He lifted up His hands and blessed them."And thus, in the mode of the Saviour's parting, we cannot fail to see a blending of His three offices. As Prophet, He provides for the future evangelisation of the world. As a King, He engages for the perpetual preservation of His Church. As a Priest, He scatters from the throne of His ascension all the treasures of heavenly benediction.
II. THE LESSONS.
1. The grandeur of the scheme of redemption, as seen in the joy of the heavenly host in this its earthly consummation. When God brought His only begotten Son into the world, it was said, "Let all the angels of God worship Him." How gladly would they welcome Him back to their own pure courts when His work was done. "God is gone up with a merry noise, and the Lord with a sound of a trumpet." "Lift up your heads, O ye gates," etc.
2. The special honour put upon our nature — upon His humanity, and upon ours.
3. The cementing and hallowing of those ties which subsist betwixt Himself and His Church — in their several relations of King and subject, Advocate and client, Head and members, Bridegroom and bride.
4. A recognition of Christ's title to universal empire. It is the solemn investiture of the Saviour with authority over all worlds, times, economies, intelligences. "He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet."
(D. Moore, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.