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Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church (LCMS)

From Heaven To Heaven

When Jesus had 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.  Luke 24:50-51

             Last Thursday, May 25th, was the fortieth day after Jesus’ resurrection and the day we celebrate his ascension into heaven.  After his crucifixion and resurrection from the dead we are told that Jesus appeared to his disciples and to many other people to demonstrate that he was alive again.  He told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until he had ascended back to heaven and then would send the promised Holy Spirit to comfort and empower them for the preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
            Jesus’ ascension marked the completion of his work of salvation and his glorious return to the right hand of God the Father.  Sin, death, and the devil had been conquered.  All powers and authorities where under the control of the Son of God.  Nothing has the power to snatch his followers from his hand.  Jesus’ ascension to the right hand of the Father was the demonstration of his victory and the completion of his journey to Earth to rescue and deliver us.
            The twenty-third psalm beautifully foreshadows Christ’s work of salvation and his journey into the valley of the shadow of death to rescue us.  Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” At Christmas, Jesus came down from heaven into the valley of the shadow of death.  He was born into our world of sin and death over which we have no control or power.  Jesus, however, traveled through this valley of death without sin.  Then in the deepest darkest shadow of our sin and death, as creation trembled and the sun was shadowed in total darkness, on a cross outside Jerusalem, Jesus died for us.  In the darkness of a tomb he rested in the valley of death, but three days later he rose from the dead, victorious over our darkest fear and evil.
            At his ascension we rejoice that he has passed through and ascended the other side of the valley and returned in power and victory to heaven.  This weekend, June 4th, we rejoice in Pentecost when Jesus sent the promised Holy Spirit to his disciples and through baptism and his Word sends the Holy Spirit the Comforter to us.  Jesus did not just show us the way out of the valley of death, but he became the Way out for us.  He has demonstrated that he has power over sin and death.  His rod and staff comfort us with the protection of the one who has conquered death.  Our Good Shepherd is always with us by the working of his Holy Spirit through his Word and Sacraments to forgive all our sins, and guarantee us eternal life.  The One who has passed through the valley of the shadow of death, promises to bring us to the other side with him.  He will raise us from the darkness of sin and death to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
            Whatever trial or tribulation that you are facing here on the valley floor, Jesus’ ascension demonstrates his power to leave this valley, to overcome every darkness the shadow of death brings.  The Good Shepherd who is leading you can and will see you through every dark time, even death, and lead you up out of this valley to eternal life.  From heaven he came and to heaven he has returned.  He knows the road well.  He doesn’t need a map.  He is the Way.                           

Pastor Jonathan Bontke.

                  A FEW GOOD WORDS

A Message from Pastor Jonathan Bontke: