Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Ascension of the Messiah

How does Luke understand the ascension? There is no question that the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus was the most fundamental affirmation of the early apostolic preaching. But what is the significance of the more detailed description of the visible ascension forty days after the resurrection? Are the resurrection and the ascension to be lumped together?

The journey to Jerusalem begins in these words: “When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” The approaching event being described is the “assumption” not the “ascension.” Luke also tells us that Jesus “went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.” Luke included a series of miracles which the commentators, beginning with Brodie, have recognized as a narrative imitating parallel miracles of Elijah and Elisha.

“Now when the LORD was about to take Eli'jah up to heaven” Elijah requested Elisha to remain sitting while he goes to Gilgal. It is the same request that Jesus made to his disciples to remain seated in the city “until you are clothed with power from on high." Elisha asked Elijah for two parts of his spirits. Immediately, Elijah is taken up into heaven. Shortly thereafter, it is said of Elisha that “the spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” The terminology employed by Luke is exactly the same as in the story of the assumption of Elijah. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is given to the ekklesia just as it was transferred to Elisha.

Luke has presented Jesus as a prophet like Elijah.

Although the source model has been identified, all of the questions have not been answered.

Copyrighted 2006


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