From The Book of Acts, Chapter One:
... I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:1-11)
These words were written by Luke, a physician and one of the original disciples of Jesus.
The ascension--the physical removal of Jesus Christ from the Earth, after his resurrection--is the answer to the question often asked by seekers: Did Jesus die again after his resurrection? What happened to him? Why should we believe he is a supernatural person?
The ascension matters because this event confirms Jesus' lordship over human life, the natural world, and the order of nature beyond the Earth. Once resurrected, he never dies again.
What happens after the resurrection and before the ascension?
Jesus reveals himself as physically raised from the dead. Not just his spirit or energy are brought back to life. His physical body is resurrected and freed from the curse, pain, and power of death. This is a demonstration of how his followers are freed from death and the destruction of the body. In no part of scripture can be found the idea that the resurrection of believers involves returning as an angel playing a harp, or as some type of disembodied spirit. During the creation, God breathed the breath of life into the bodies of the original humans. In the final resurrection, God calls that spirit back into an eternal body that's been redeemed and made perfect forever. (See 1 Corinthians, Chapter 15)
Jesus gave specific instructions for his followers. Ironically, there were told to wait. Even though these followers were overjoyed with this supernatural event, they weren't ready to go out with the message. Even though they were convinced beyond doubt, this total belief wasn't enough. Jesus tells them to wait for the gift of God (the Holy Spirit) who will live in them. Enthusiasm, courage, and good will aren't enough. Believers need the power of God living in them to do the work they've been assigned. Jesus calls this preparation the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, Jesus tells his followers it's not for them to know the ultimate timeline of God's plan for restoring the right and peaceful order of things. Jesus answered so many questions asked by the disciples during his time with them, but didn't answer this one. Discipleship is not always about knowing the future. Witnessing is about telling what you already know. Discipleship is about telling your story without shame or pride because you know the marvelous things God has done in your life.
The power of the true witness is not that the future can be told or predicted with accuracy. The power of the true witness lives in their ability to share what God has already done for them and to then demonstrate those changes as consistent, powerful, peaceful, and permanent. This type of witnessing cannot be done apart from the power of God within you.
"God has done marvelous things." The power of the ascension lives within you when you tell your story of grace, repentance, redirection, and repurpose---all empowered by the Holy Spirit.