Luke 24:51, The Ascension

And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and
carried up into heaven.

//What’s up with this floating up to heaven bit? Luke is the only Gospel
writer to tell of Jesus ascending. Matthew imagines no such thing,
promising instead that Jesus will remain with his followers always, “even
to the end of the age.” In John’s Gospel, Jesus appears offering peace and
encouragement after the resurrection; there’s nothing there about going
away again. Mark’s Gospel originally ended with no Jesus-sighting at all,
though sometime later, an ending was added matching Luke’s teaching.

Most Bible scholars agree that Matthew and Luke built upon the Gospel
originally written by Mark. Thus, Luke’s Gospel went one direction in its
continuation of the Markan story, Matthew’s Gospel went another direction,
and John’s Gospels can be considered largely independent of the other
three.

Today, the theology of Jesus ascending to heaven and awaiting the proper
moment to return is ingrained to the very core of Christianity. We all
look forward to the day Jesus comes back. But I want you to imagine for a
moment what direction Christianity would have taken if one of the four
Gospel writers hadn’t followed Paul’s theology and steered the Christ
story toward the idea of Jesus leaving. Imagine, as Matthew wants us to
understand, Jesus appearing after the resurrection and never again going
away.

How different would our theology be today? Would it suddenly make more
sense how the risen Jesus could be “seen” only by his disciples? How would
we imagine the resurrected Jesus, if we believed he lives with us today in
the same manner as he appeared to the twelve after his resurrection? And,
most importantly, how different would we act as Christians if we believed
Jesus already inaugurated the final age 2,000 years ago?

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