Today is Ascension Day, when many Christians around the world commemorate the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven at the conclusion of his earthly ministry. The Gospel of Mark describes his departure and final exhortation in the most detail (Mark 16:14-19):
Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.
Other descriptions of Jesus’ ascension can be found in Luke 24:50-61 and Acts 1:9-11. The Gospel of Matthew does not describe the Ascension directly, but ends with Jesus’ famous command (Matthew 28:18-20):
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Christ’s will for his followers is clear. Go forth and spread the Good News!