One day the disciples and followers of Jesus had met in Jerusalem, when Jesus Himself came again in their midst and talked with them quite a bit. He said particularly that they were not to leave Jerusalem, but wait there. In a few days the Holy Spirit would come upon them, and they were to wait until He came. Then He asked them to go with Him for a walk. And they walk together along those old Jerusalem streets, out the gate and off past Gethsemane toward the top of Olives over against Bethany. On the way they ask Him if it was His plan to set up the kingdom then. He turns their thought away from Palestine toward the world, away from times and seasons toward telling a race about Himself.
And now they are standing together on the Mount of Olives. There is Peter, the new man of rock, and John and James, the sons of thunder, and little Scotch Andrew, and the man in whom is no guile, and the others. But one's eyes quickly go by these to the Man in the center of the group. These men stand gazing on that face, listening for His words. There is a consciousness that the goodbye word is about to be spoken. Yonder they can see the bit of a depression and the tops of some old trees. That is Gethsemane. And over beyond that is the city wall and the little knoll near by outside. That is Calvary. With memories such as these suggest they listen with eyes as well as ears. "Ye shall receive power," the Master is saying, "and ye shall be My witnesses here in Jerusalem and in all Judea, your brothers, and in Samaria, the nearby people you don't like, and unto the uttermost part of the earth, everybody else." They are held by the words and by that face. Then He lifts up His hands in blessing upon them. And as they gaze they notice He is rising, His feet are off the earth, then higher and higher. Then a shining glory cloud sweeps down out of the blue, and now they see Him no more.
They continue gazing, held spellbound by the sight, thinking maybe they may get another look. Then two men in white apparel are in their midst and speak to them: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into the heavens? This Jesus who was received up into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye beheld Him going into heaven." That word at once sends them back to the waiting-place of which the Master had spoken. From that time they never lost the upward glance, but they were ever absorbed in obeying the Master's command.
Jesus' ascension was a continuation of the resurrection movement. The resurrection was the beginning of the ascension. Having finished the task involved in dying, Jesus responded to the natural upward movement of His life. On His way up from the tomb to His Father's home and throne, He tarried awhile on the earth for the sake of these disciples and leaders, then yielded again to the upward movement. The two men in white apparel give the key to the ascension. Jesus will remain above until the next great step in the kingdom plan. Then He will return to carry out in full the Father's great love-plan for man and for the earth.
His last act with these men was conducting them to the Mount of Olives. That is ever to be the point of outlook for His follower. Yonder in full view is Gethsemane and Calvary. Following the line of His eyes and pointing finger, as the last word is spoken, leads us ever to the man nearest by, to the uttermost parts of the earth, and to all between. Following His disappearing figure keeps us ever looking upward to Himself and forward to His return.