Key Text: Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:9-12
Bethany is on the eastern foothill of Mt. Olivet. This is the same place he started from during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, (Mk. 11:1). Now he is beginning his triumphal entry into Heaven, which we may term as the New Jerusalem? It is the Mt, which Zechariah prophesied the beginning of a great change in Judah, where living waters start to flow, Zec. 14:1-9. Jesus lifted his hands when he blessed his disciples. Why? Posture is important. The Jews often lifted their hands in prayer, (not praise), so they could offer God clean hands prepared for holy work. Jesus knew they would become His hands on earth, when He left. Jesus also prayed looking up to Heaven, (Mk. 6:41).
One of our most difficult problems with prayer is distractions, and posture can help prevent our mind from wandering. Fervent prayer can not be prayed flippantly, especially when we are praying for someone other than our self. The apostle Paul was on his knees in prayer, Eph. 3:14. Jerome mentions a rumor that the author of “James”, the Lord’s brother, actually was nicknamed, “old camel knees”, because so often he was on his knees in prayer, they became callous. Josephus actually says James was regarded even by unbelieving Jews, as “James The Just”. Prayer can make us strong to do what is right. Nelson’s Dictionary says camels must be trained to kneel. We may have something in common with them. When Jesus prayed blessings, he was asking the Father to help strengthen them for His absence. This was not a prayer of thanksgiving, but rather a claim for help. Jesus knew their greatest need in His absence would be to practice what he sent them to preach. It is the living practice of our message as a Christian that puts our priesthood real. Read 1st Peter 2:9.
Interesting note that “Clouds” relate to Jesus three times, once during the transfiguration, Mt. 17:5, also here in the ascension, Ac. 1:9 and he is promised to come in clouds upon judgment day, 1st Ths. 4:17. Clouds are essentially water, and that is what demons avoid, which is where we meet the blood of Jesus by faith in baptism, (Mt. 12:43 & Lk. 11:24). Water has always been in Gods’ plan. The apostles first reaction during the ascension of Jesus and His blessing was to worship Him. Never under any circumstance should we hesitate to worship or pray to Jesus. Why? Because right then and there He became our High Priest. Without Jesus interceding, we are hopelessly unable to do anything acceptable for God, Mk. 16:19. See Hebrews 8:1-4, without Jesus as our High Priest, we are like a body beheaded. His High Priesthood is the reason He is the Head of the church, his body, Colossians 1:18. The second reaction of the disciples during his ascension is “staring”. Christians can not afford to be “watching the sky”, we are to be doing the will of the Lord, loving and looking and staying prepared for the coming of Christ, as if it will be tomorrow, 2nd Peter 3:10, 1st Ths 5:2. We should be in love with His appearing, 2nd Tim. 4:8, with as much love as the first disciples had, when they missed Him.