And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God. (24:52–53)
Now that the disciples understood fully the person and work of Christ, there was no other way they could have reacted, other than by worshiping Him. With all their doubts and fears gone, all their questions answered, fully convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer, the disciples were ready to preach the gospel—even if it cost them their lives.
After Jesus was gone, they returned to Jerusalem as He had commanded them (v. 49; Acts 1:4) with great joy, which caused them to be continually in the temple praising God. Their training was complete, and they were full of praise, ready to preach, and some of them even prepared to write portions of the New Testament.
The amazing implications of the ascension of the Son of God to heaven can be broken down into the following truths.
First, the ascension marked the completion of the work of salvation. After the cross and the resurrection, there was nothing further to be done to provide any aspect of salvation. Jesus’ words from the cross, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), signified that He had accomplished the work the Father had given Him to do.
Second, the ascension marked the end of Jesus’ limitations. During His incarnation, He had “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:7–8). At the ascension, He returned to the glory He had had with the Father before the world was created (John 17:5). Jesus had left heaven as spirit, but returned as the God-Man, whom He will remain forever.
Third, as noted earlier, the ascension marked Christ’s exaltation and coronation.
Fourth, the ascension signaled the sending of the Holy Spirit, who until then “was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). “It is to your advantage that I go away,” Jesus had told the disciples, “for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7).
Fifth, the ascension marked the start of Jesus’ preparing believers’ heavenly home (John 14:1–3).
Sixth, the ascension marked the passing of the work of evangelism to His followers. Christ’s work is both finished and unfinished (Acts 1:1). His work of providing redemption is completed, and nothing can be added to it (John 17:4; 19:30; Heb. 9:12). But His work of proclamation is not finished. The rest of the New Testament describes the continuation of that work by the early church, and it will not be completed until He returns.
Seventh, the ascension signaled the Lord’s sovereign headship over the church (Eph. 1:20–23; Col. 1:18).
Eighth, the ascension marked Christ’s triumph over Satan. As the apostle John wrote, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8; cf. Gen. 3:15; Heb. 2:14).
Ninth, the ascension signaled the Lord’s giving the work of the ministry to gifted men. When He ascended, Jesus sent the Spirit, who not only gave spiritual gifts to individual believers (1 Cor. 12:4–11), but also gifted men to the church (Eph. 4:11–13).
Tenth, the ascension marked the beginning of the merciful and faithful (Heb. 2:17) and sympathetic (Heb. 4:15) high priest’s work of intercession for His people (Heb. 7:25).
Finally, the ascension guarantees and secures Christ’s second coming (Acts 1:11).
All Christians should celebrate all that Jesus accomplished for them, which culminated in the ascension. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” wrote Paul, “that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).
MacArthur New Testament Commentary