Celebrate Jesus’s Return to Heaven, Which Prepares the Way for Pentecost
In my post The Four Main Christian Celebrations, I list for holy days (holidays) that smartly recognize Jesus and succinctly outline the key elements of his life and what he did for us. These Christian holidays are:
- Jesus’s Birthday (Christmas)
- Jesus’s Sacrificial Death (Good Friday)
- Resurrection Sunday (Easter)
I wonder if I should add Ascension Day to the list. It is, after all, a critical element in the arc of Jesus’s life.
What is Ascension Day?
Ascension Day occurs forty days after Resurrection Sunday (better known as Easter). On Easter Jesus rises from the dead. He spends forty days with his friends and followers to prove he is alive. Then he gives his disciples the directive to wait in Jerusalem for a special gift—the Holy Spirit—that Papa will send (Acts 1:4). After his parting words, he ascends into heaven (Acts 1:9-11).
Ascension Day falls on Thursday, so the date differs each year. Out of convenience many churches acknowledge Jesus’s returned to heaven on the following Sunday, which they call Ascension Sunday—even though it didn’t happen on the first day of the week.
Ascension Day is critical, for Jesus had to return to heaven before his followers—and we—could receive the Holy Spirit. Without Jesus leaving, Pentecost couldn’t have occurred.
The Five Holidays That Commemorate Jesus’s Life
Putting these five days together reveals a sound theological understanding of the essential role Jesus plays in our faith journey. Here it is:
Jesus comes to earth (Christmas). After he spends three years to teach his disciples and talk about the kingdom of God, he dies as our once-and-for-all sacrifice to cover all the mistakes we—and everyone else throughout time—have ever made (Good Friday).
To prove he has the authority to make the ultimate sacrifice for us, he overcomes death by rising from the dead (Easter). After confirming he is alive, he returns to heaven (Ascension Day) so that we may receive the Holy Spirit (Pentecost).
Recognizing these five days as Christian holy days and celebrating these holidays reminds us each year of the essential elements of the gospel story, God’s good news to save humanity.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.
5 replies on “Is Ascension Day the Fifth Christian Holy Day?”
Reading Scripture as you know very well Peter is very different from reading the Morning or Evening Newspaper or even an academic journal article.
“Ascension Day occurs forty days after Resurrection Sunday (better known as Easter). On Easter Jesus rises from the dead. He spends forty days with his friends and followers to prove he is alive. Then he gives his disciples the directive to wait in Jerusalem for a special gift—the Holy Spirit—that Papa will send (Acts 1:4). After his parting words, he ascends into heaven (Acts 1:9-11).”
As you point out “Jesus comes to earth (Christmas). After he spends three years to teach his disciples and talk about the kingdom of God, he dies as our once-and-for-all sacrifice to cover all the mistakes we—and everyone else throughout time—have ever made (Good Friday).”
Many Christians are not trained to to think with the heart, mind and soul as a Psalmist, as Singer, Songwriter. To begin, Psalm 90: 3-4 sings to people today, 5000 years after the Beloved Psalmist first sang it. “You return man to dust, saying, ‘Return, O sons of mortals.’ For in Your sight a thousand years are but a day that passes, or a watch of the night.
Jesus spent 3 thousand years teaching people! The 3 days of Scripture is like the wafer, the priest gives to communicants. The 3 days need the water of the communicant to digest and swallow the Scripture. As Jesus the Rabboni rises, stands up “face to face” with Christ the Bridegroom, and hears his voice, Jesus the Rabboni realizes the JOY of witnessing a HEAVENLY LOVE STORY come alive right out of Song of Songs 8:13-14 …as the prophesied Bride lets go of the Son of David and the Bride and the Groom, the Stag of SOS, confess their love for each other. This is not the end of the Rabboni’s life. It is a new beginning …after years spent preparing the way. Jesus the Son of David finally gets to realize the way and see the WAY becoming a reality.
Christianity needs people to open their Bibles with the Psalmist’s heart, mind and soul. Jesus the Teacher is not Christ the Bridegroom. And yet Jesus the Teacher is Christ the Son of God. This fact creates a stumbling block for many believers. Many believers down through the ages have found it difficult to see how Jesus comes to life to magnify the eternal soul of the Triune God. It is up to Christians to go and tell this miracle to others. And so they must get prepared to defend this miracle. They need to start studying the Bible aware of the HART.
Peter: Thanks for posting and for encouraging your readers to open their BIBLES.
You’re welcome, Linda. Thanks for stopping by!
Yes, as you’ve pointed out , no ascension no Pentecost. I would also add what some traditions refer to Holy Saturday or The Harrowing of Hades. Whereas we Protestants have a blank day between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, the R.C. And Orthodox celibate Christ’s decent into the realm of the dead to release those O.T. Saints who were saved by faith in God’s promised Messiah, to take them to Paradise. See Ephesians 4:7,8, 1 Peter 3:18,19
Thanks for the additional insight, Robert. I greatly appreciate it.
Yes, this is the promise. Even those who perished long ago through disobedience will rise (come back from the dead) when they realize that God’s promise of eternal life is real! It’s hard to comprehend. Some may ask: Is it reincarnation? Others may ask: Is it a faith based realization that God wants people to realize that it is a HUGE mistake to think that the knowledge of good and evil will make them eligible for eternal life? Others will say. They have it because Jesus died once and for all (became incommunicado) so that people would be saved from dying of this big mistake. And others may think this is so unfair and struggle to explain what happened while Jesus’ body lay incommunicado in the tomb and just how that confinement gave rise to the Stone being rolled away….that first Easter morning in the Garden that was planted in such a way as to honour the dead [of traitors and patriots]. I think many Christian Pastors who have inserted the Mirror story (that Fulghum retells) into their stories grasp the concept. Peacemakers reconcile and forgive. They honour all even those they have vowed to hate (or punish or eradicate) in order to plant seeds of truth and love. Of course this is a very hard concept to realize and accomplish when people see their loved ones suffering at the hands of others. They want a Big PAPA or a MEAN MOMMA to come in and blast them off the face of the earth or throw them into prison without parole forever. So thank you Robert Kersten for posing such a question.