Jesus & His Disciples Last Meeting, the Great Commission, and Jesus' Accension
Mark 16:15-19; Luke 24:50-53; John 21; Acts 1:1-14
Just before Jesus ascends into heaven, He tells His disciples, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
AR UP IN
Galilee, away from the reach of their enemies, a group of men and women met together on a mountain-side and waited for the appearance of their Lord. And Jesus came to them there, and talked in other days. And they rejoiced to see him once more and worshiped him; but some doubted that he was really the same Jesus who had been nailed to the cross.
One day after this meeting some of the disciples who had been fishermen returned to the Sea of Galilee. The familiar sight of the water and fishing-boats floating about on the surface stirred within Peter's heart a desire to again go fishing. So he told his companions, and they said, "We will go with you."
All that night the men stayed in their ship, toiling with their net; but not one fish did they catch. When morning came they drew near to the shore and saw a stranger standing there beside a fire of coals. He called to them and asked whether they had any fish.
They replied that they had caught none, and he bade them cast their net into the water once more, this time on the right side of the ship. They obeyed, and now the net was filled.
John, the disciple who often went with Peter and James, now whispered to his companions, "It is the Lord."
And immediately Peter wrapped his fisher's coat about his body and jumped overboard to swim to shore, so eager was he to come to Jesus. The others remained in the ship and brought it to the landing. Then Jesus commanded them to bring some of the fish they had caught, and Peter drew the net from out of the water. In it they had taken one hundred and fifty-three large fishes, yet the net was not broken. Then Jesus asked the men to come and eat, for he had already prepared fish and bread on the burning colas.
After they had eaten, Jesus talked with Simon Peter, the disciple who had denied him at the time of his trial. He asked Simon three times if he loved him, and each time Simon replied, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Simon believed that Jesus knew all things, and he felt sad because Jesus asked him this same question the third time. Then he remembered how only a short while ago he had denied three times that he ever knew Jesus. Now he declared three times that he loved him, and Jesus told him to feed his lambs and sheep.
Simon Peter had heard Jesus speak a parable one day about the Good shepherd, who gave his life for his sheep. And he knew that Jesus had called himself the Good Shepherd. Now he understood that Jesus had died for the sins of the people, and he believed that men and women were the sheep whom Jesus meant that he should feed. Not their bodies, but their souls were hungry to be fed, and Jesus wanted Peter to leave his work as a fisherman and become a preacher of the gospel. In this way he could feed the people.
Then Jesus told Peter words like these: "When you were a young man you went wherever you wished, but when you shall become an old man you shall stretch out your hands and another shall carry you where you do not wish to go."
By these words he meant that when Peter should grow old he would be put to death because he loved Jesus.
Then he said to Peter, "Follow me."
Simon Peter turned about and saw John standing by. At once he asked, "Lord, what shall this man do?"
But Jesus said, "Never mind about John's work; see that you follow me."
Forty days passed by, and during these days Jesus often spoke with his disciples about the kingdom of God. Still they did not understand that it would not be an earthly kingdom, like the kingdom of David had been. At last the time came for their farewell-meeting.
During this time Jesus appeared to his disciples and "when they saw him, they worshiped him: but some doubted.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
While they talked earnestly together, Jesus said, "John the Baptist baptized you with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days."
And some of the disciples asked, "Will you at that time restore the kingdom of Israel?"
But Jesus said, "It is not for you to know the plans of the heavenly Father; but you shall receive power from heaven when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and this power will cause you to witness boldly to me in Jerusalem, in all the country of Judah, in Samaria, and in the farthest parts of the world. But do not go away from Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit is given to you."
While Jesus talked to them they were standing together on the Mount of Olives, and suddenly the disciples saw him being caught up into heaven. They watched until he disappeared from sight in bright clouds, after which they saw him no more. But still they stood gazing upward, hoping to catch one more glimpse of their departing Lord.
Then two angels came and stood beside them, clothed in beautiful garments of white. They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven will come again in the same manner as he went away."
Then they left the place and went into Jerusalem, into a room up-stairs, where they met together with other friends of Jesus to wait and pray until the promised Comforter should be given to them.
No longer were they sorrowing; for now great joy filled their hearts because they knew that Jesus was really the Christ.
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