20 Abib: The Great Commission and Christ’s First Ascension

Luke 24:50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising God. (NASB)

On this day in history… 20 Abib in 36 CE, the second day of the week (evening of 4/9 and focusing on the morning of 4/10) on the sixth day of Unleavened Bread, the following occurred:

All three passages may be read here for your convenience.

As was discussed in yesterday’s article 19 Abib: Christ’s Empty Tomb Discovered, the account in Mark 16 is spurious as that passage was not found in early manuscripts and contains false information about the day of His resurrection in v9; see the footnotes for vv9 and 20.

This was the day that the Great Commission was issued and when Christ ascended into Heaven at Bethany in Galilee in Luke 24:50-53. This was also the day before the annual or High Sabbath that marked the closing of the Feast of Unleavened Bread on 21 Abib. On that day, He rested with His Father in Heaven.

Note that the original ascension did not occur forty (40) days after Easter on a Thursday (i.e., Feast of the Ascension) as is observed in some churches. We know that Christ visited His disciples on other occasions. For example, the “doubting Thomas” event occurred during the following week in John 20:26-31. We also have the opening of Acts (again, written to Mattathias ben Theophilus sometime between 65-66 CE when he served as chief priest in Jerusalem before the outbreak of the First Jewish-Roman War that started in 66 CE):

Acts 1:1 The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. (NASB)

Verse 2 speaks of the Great Commission followed by His initial ascension. Verse 3 speaks of many convincing proofs over the next 40 days which remain mostly undocumented in Biblical canon. Note also:

John 20:30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (NASB)

Again, we know in 1 Corinthians 15 focusing on verses 6-7 that other events occurred that did not make it into Biblical canon:

1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (NASB)

Author’s Note: The “church of God” that Saul (Heb. Sha’ul) persecuted in v9 was the “sect” called The Way (Heb. HaDerech) documented in the Dead Sea Scrolls; see Acts 9:1-31; 19:8-10,23-27; 22:1-16; and 24:1-16 focusing on vv14-15.

The two witnesses of Revelation, Enoch and Elijah, will fill in the gaps for those believers who endure to at least mid-Tribulation.

Be sure to read the companion articles in the Passover/Unleavened Bread series as well as the events leading up to them:

Shema Yisrael! (Hear, Israel!)

Copyright (C) 1995-2018, L. Alan Schuetz. All rights reserved.

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