Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)
Some 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus gathered His disciples on the Mount of Olives and told them to be witnesses to Him in all the earth. After finishing that important and final command, Jesus did something remarkable. His physical body was lifted up into heaven, even as His disciples watched. He went up, up, and up even further until He faded into the clouds and could be seen no more.
Jesus wanted His disciples see His departure from earth to heaven. We read, while they watched, He was taken up. It was important for Jesus to leave His disciples in this manner. In theory, He certainly could have simply vanished to heaven and to the Father’s presence in a secret sort of way. But Jesus wanted His followers to know that He was gone for good, as opposed to the way He appeared and reappeared during the 40 days after His resurrection.
Jesus told His disciples it was better for Him to leave, because then He would send them the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). Now the disciples could know that that promise would be fulfilled. The Holy Spirit was coming because Jesus promised to send the Spirit when He left, and the ascension was a way to demonstrate that Jesus was really gone.
As the disciples stared up into the sky, two men – apparently angels – asked, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? They told the disciples to focus on what Jesus told them to do, not in wondering where and how Jesus went.
The two men referred to Christ as, this same Jesus. This reminds us that the Jesus who ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father is the same Jesus of the Gospels. He is the same Jesus of love, grace, goodness, wisdom, and care. The Jesus in heaven is this same Jesus.
Then also added a wonderful promise: Jesus will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven. This Jesus will return just as He left.
– He left physically and will so come in like manner.
– He left visibly and will so come in like manner.
– He left from the Mount of Olives and will so come in like manner.
– He left in the presence of His disciples and will so come in like manner.
– He left blessing His people (Luke 24:50-51) and will so come in like manner.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus!