THE ANGELIC WITNESSES TO THE ASCENSION.
Acts 1:11. — ” Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven ?”
THE Angels, in these words — firstly, reprove the wonder of the Apostles ; secondly, they assert the Ascension of the Lord; thirdly, they predict His return once more to earth.
- I. On the first head it is to be noted, that the Angels reproved the wonder of the Apostles in the words — ” Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? Concerning which four points are to be noted:
- Firstly, the Apostles were amazed at the Ascension, which was accomplished with so great glory and power, and about which also the Angels themselves were so zealous, asking “Who is this?”(Isa 63:1). And remark the excellence of this Ascension, His difference from others who were taken from the earth. How great, indeed, is the contrast between our Blessed Lord and Enoch and Elijah.
- Secondly, the Apostles were grieving at His departure. The Great Comforter was going away from them. ” Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice” (John 16:20); “Woe, woe is me, my son, why did we send thee to go to a strange country; the light of our eyes” (Tobit 10: 4).
- Thirdly, the Apostles werefearing, because of the persecutions which they expected from the world, since they were left alone amidst those tribulations of the world which Jesus had already spoken to them about. ” In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:22).
- Fourthly, the Apostles were confiding in their Lords promises to them. ” I go to my Father” by the substruction of My Body: “I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice” (John 16:22). I will come again to you through the mission of the Holy Ghost: ” I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter” (John 16:16); “Lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt 28:20).
II. On the second head it is to be noted, that the Angels assert the Ascension of the Lord: “This same Jesus Which is taken up from you into heaven ;” about which four things are to be noted.
- Firstly, Jesus ascended from earth in the sight of the Apostles, who represented the earth.
- Secondly, Jesus ascended into heaven. ” Two men stood by them in white apparel.” These Angels were the representatives of and witnesses from heaven.
- Thirdly, Jesus ascended through the clouds. ” A cloud received Him out of their sight.” This cloud represents the Almighty Father into Whose presence the Son ascended. The cloud is the witness of God the Father.
- Fourthly, Jesus ascended in the act of blessing. “He lifted up His hands and blessed them; while He blessed them He was parted from them and carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51). Our Lord was so His own witness that He ascended in His flesh — in that very flesh in which He had been crucified, and in which also He rose from the dead.
These four witnesses — earth, heaven, God the Father, and God the Son— establish the truth of the Ascension of the Lord.
III. On the third head it is to be noted, that the Angels predict our Blessed Lord’s return to earth. He ” shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.”
Of our Lord’s coming to judgment four things are to be
noted as in regard to His Ascension.
- Frstly, the earth shall witness it, for the Judge will be seen alike by the righteous and the wicked. ” They shall see the Son of Man” (Matt 24:30).
- Secondly, God shall bear witness to it, for the Judge will be ” coming in the clouds.”
- Thirdly, with His hands raised for smiting sinners. “With power and great glory” (id.)
- Fourthly, with holy Angels as His witnesses standing around Him, Whom they shall precede, bearing the insignia of His Passion. ” And He shall send His Angels with a great sound of a trumpet.”