Luke 24:50-51, When Did Jesus Ascend?

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.

//Everybody knows the answer to today’s question. Jesus ascended to heaven forty days after the resurrection, as indicated in the book of Acts. Why, then, does Luke give a different story? Let’s trace the events through the final chapter of Luke:

Verse 1 tells us that “the women” went to the tomb early on the first day of the week, and found Jesus gone.

Verse 13 says that on the very same day, Jesus met with two men on the road to Emmaus. They soon sit down to dinner.

Verse 33 says that after Jesus disappeared from their sight, they got up and returned at once to Jerusalem, and met with the Eleven.

Verse 36 indicates that while they were talking about this, Jesus appeared to them.

Then verse 50, the very same day, Jesus leads them out to Bethany, where he ascends into heaven.

The most curious thing about this story is not that Jesus ascends on the day of his resurrection. After all, John’s Gospel says the same thing (see verse 20:17, where the present tense is clear: Jesus is ascending at that moment), before appearing back on the ground a week later. What’s curious is that scholars universally agree that the author of Luke also wrote the book of Acts. The same author has Jesus ascend the day of his resurrection and then has him ascend again 40 days later.

Were there two ascensions?

8 Comments

  1. p3tra.p@hotmail.com

    the ascension in John 20:17, He was ascending as the first fruit, refer to Feast of Firstfruits ceremony, (Leviticus 23:10),

    • Lee Harmon

      elaborate for me, p3tra! Are you saying Jesus ascended twice? Or that the ascension in John is of a different nature than in Acts?

      • Dezsi Russouw

        Yeshua did ascend twice, the first was on the first day of the new week, which we call Sunday. This is also known as the Feast of First Fruits or Wave offering. The third feast of the Spring feasts. (the fourth being Pentecost) Yeshua fulfilled all the spring feasts ordained by YHVH in the Torah. (first 5 books of the Old testament. Yeshua closed Paradise, which means that all the Old testament saints were taken up with Yeshua and present to Abba Father as the First Fruits. Yeshua did not rise on the 1st day of the week, neither was He crucified on the Friday. Most Christian scholars ignore the Old Testament feasts and Sabbaths and the feast of of Unleaven Bread, which occurs the next day immediately after Passover day. This Feast which follows after the Passover is ALSO KNOWN AS A HIGH SABBATH. This is where the confusion comes in that Yeshua was crucified on Friday as most Christians scholars do not know that there are 7 biblical feasts ordained by YHVH and some are ordained by Him to be kept as Sabbath days. in the week that Yeshua was crucified on Passover there were 2 Sabbath days NOT ONE and the 3rd Feast fell on the very 1st day of the new week, our Sunday. Read Leviticus 27. Shalom

        • Alexander Weismann

          You are mistaken friend. In the time of Jesus, there were two time lines being observed. Time line No.1 was the Creation time line of 7 days with the first day being directly after the day of the New Moon. Time line No.2 was Julian time, which consisted of an 8 day week; the days of the week were identified by a letter from A – H. In 1582 the Gregorian calendar was introduced and reverted back to a 7 day week but the “days” were already lost. According to scripture the first day is the day after the New Moon and that day could fall on any day. To assume the seventh day is always a Sunday is mute. The Passover was always on the sixth day after the New Moon. There were 29 1/2 days each month with some months having 30 days. A new month would begin with the New Moon. This is why God said the Sun & Moon are for signs and for seasons and for days and years. The Moon indicates signs (New Moon for example) and seasons ( every 3 New Moon cycles was a new season) and the Sun shows each day and the cycle of a year. Remember there are two references for “time” in the Bible. A Time and a Season. You have Time, Times and the dividing of Time, and you also have seasons where waiting was indicated by a little season and so on. I would be almost impossible to find out the name of the day Christ was crucified as the bible only mentions days as “days” and months as “months. Although the Jews have a name for months, no name was mentioned.

  2. Aaron

    The one verse in Luke where Jesus ascends was inserted by later scribes who were attempting to counteract the Docetists view of Jesus being an apparition.

  3. Jacob Daniel

    It is clear that what Luke 24:1-49 says all happen the same day itself. But, there is nothing evident in the words to claim 24:50-51 also happens the very same day. Luke may have considered it is not important to state the waiting period between Resurrection and Ascension; yet, both reported.

    • Lee Harmon

      That’s possible, Jacob. Luke may have not been aware of anything else Jesus did or said in between. However, it certainly reads like one narrative: As he was preparing to ascend, he gave them parting words not to leave Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit arrived.

  4. I’m unable to find any examples of the Church Fathers presenting the two-ascensions doctrine. So, I’m beginning to think that this is either a medieval doctrine or perhaps even more recent. In fact, Chrysostom seems to rule this idea out altogether:

    “Why did He say: ‘Do not touch me’?…It seems to me that she wished to enjoy His presence still, in the same way as before, and because of her joy at seeing Him, had no realization of His greatness, even though He had become much more excellent in bodily appearance. Thus, to lead her to abandon this notion and to refrain from addressing Him too familiarly (for He does not appear after this con­versing so familiarly even with His disciples), He elevated her thoughts so that she would treat Him with a more reverential attitude. Accordingly, if He had said: ‘Do not touch me as you did before, because things are not the same now, and I will not associate with you in future in the same way as before.’ it would seem somewhat harsh and boastful. But when He said: ‘I have not yet ascended to my Father,’ even though the words were without offense, they meant the same thing. BY SAYING ‘I HAVE NOT YET ASCENDED’ HE MEANT THAT HE WAS GOING TO DO SO WITHOUT DELAY; AND THAT, BECAUSE HE WAS ON THE POINT OF DEPARTING AND OF CEASING TO BE AMONG MEN ANY LONGER [The ascension in view would have to be consequent to Christ’s appearances during the forty-day period between His resurrection and ascension after which He sat at the right hand of God, thus ceasing to be among men any longer (cf. Mark 16:19; Acts 2:31–35)] she ought not to regard Him in the same way as before. MOREOVER, WHAT FOLLOWS MAKES IT CLEAR THAT THIS IS SO. GO TO MY BRETHREN AND SAY TO THEM. “I ASCEND TO MY FATHER AND YOUR FATHER, TO MY GOD AND YOUR GOD.” YET, HE WAS GOING TO DO THIS ONLY AFTER FORTY DAYS. How it is, then, that He said this? In the desire to uplift her thoughts and make her realize that He was actually going away to heaven [context: after forty days].” —John Chrysostom (Commentary on Saint John The Apostle and Evangelist. Homilies 1-88)

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